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The Religious Attitude 
and Life in Islam 



Sometime Scholar and Fellow of the University of Glasgow; Professor of 

Semitic Languages in Hartford Theological Seminary; Author 

of Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence 

and Constitutional Theory, etc. 


Copyright 1909 By 
The University of Chicago 

All rights reserved 

Published February 1909 
Second Impression February 191s 

Composed and Printed By 

The University or Chicago Press 

Chlcajo. III., U.S.A 

M. L. B. M. 


The following lectures are an attempt to outline the 
religious attitude and life of Muslims, as opposed to the 
systematic theology of Islam. Of the development of 
the latter I published a sketch some years ago; to that 
the present volume may be regarded as a complement. 

That its contents will be a surprise to many, I am very 
conscious. Instead of being an oriental replica, however 
humble, of Mr. William James's Varieties of Religious 
Experience, as might reasonably be expected, it will 
probably suggest to most the Human Personality of the 
late F. W. H. Myers. But nothing else was possible. 
Orientals have never learned the art of ignoring all but 
the normal, the always renewable; they have kept a 
mind for infinite possibilities, and the infinite possibili- 
ties have continued to come to them. Naturally, then, 
instead of their religion gradually limiting itself down 
to emotions quickened by ethical aspirations, it has 
retained a very lively feeling of contact with an actual 
spiritual world, self-existent and in no process of depend- 
ent becoming. 

It was necessary, therefore, in the search for interpre- 
tative analogies, to turn, not to our metaphysical systems 
or to our religious philosophy, but rather to what we 
call commonly, in jest or earnest, the occult. These 
analogies, therefore, had to be sought chiefly in the 
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research and 
similar publications. The case of Muhammad himself, 


for example, can be indefinitely more completely illus- 
trated and explained by the phenomena of so-called 
trance-mediumship than by any other hypothesis. In the 
light of what we know now on such matters, even Spren- 
ger's most able and learned investigation has been 
completely antiquated. And it is noteworthy, further, 
that the theory of veridical hallucinations worked out by 
Gurney and Myers is essentially that of al-Ghazzall and 
Ibn Khaldun. 

But my use of these analogies has been so extensive 
that in order to avoid misconceptions, some statement of 
my own views is necessary. So far, then, as one may 
who has had no first-hand experience, I am driven to 
regard telepathy as proved. Again, so far as one may 
who is neither a physicist nor a conjurer, I regard the 
proof of what Dr. Maxwell has called telekinesis, 
movement of objects at a distance without contact, 
as approaching certainty. Of communications by 
discarnate spirits, on the other hand, I know of no 
satisfactory proof. I trust that this personal statement 
in explanation and defense may be pardoned. 

References have been kept to a minimum, but have 
been given exactly for all the Arabic texts used. Of 
Ibn Khaldun's Prolegomena I have consulted the Bey- 
rout and Bulaq texts and de Slane's translation. The 
last, made from Quatremere's text, is fullest of all; that 
of Beyrout has considerable omissions, intentional and 
accidental, and some amazing blunders. As it is the 
most accessible and seemingly usable text, it may be 
worth while to say that neither as regards its consonants 
nor its vowels can it be trusted. The other references 


will explain themselves to the Arabist; for him also I 
have inserted a number of important words in trans- 
literation; but not, I trust, so many as to annoy the 
general reader. Of necessity, I have had to reproduce 
much from Arabic authors. For the most part this is 
condensed and paraphrased with as faithful rendering 
of the thought a; possible. But, from time to time, 
sections of simple translation occur; these are always 
indicated. My own inserted comments will also be 
recognizable. It is hardly necessary to add that in 
these ten lectures hardly an entrance has been made into 
the subject. But I venture to hope that I have sketched 
the essential outlines, and that future research will bring 
only additions and corrections in detail. Very little 
has so far been done in this field; but several articles 
in Hasting's Dictionary oj Religion, at present in prepa- 
ration, will contribute to it; and all signs indicate a 
renewed general interest in Islam. 

I have again to express my indebtedness to my col- 
league, Professor Gillett, for his counsel in philosophy, 
and to my wife for much patient labor in copying and 
for suggestion and criticism in arranging and correcting. 
Without her comradeship in interest and her knowledge 
of the general subject this book might never have taken 
form, and in her hands I now fittingly leave it. 

Duncan B. Macdonald 
Hartford, Conn., 
October, 1908 



Lecture I i 

The religious attitude in Islam; reality of the 
Unseen to Orientals; its nature; comparison with 
mediaeval Europe; oriental lack in sense of law; 
the shell of law and the supernatural behind it; 
oriental indifference to incompatible facts and devo- 
tion to single ideas; prophecy among Hebrews and 
Arabs; the soil of prophetism; its width and pro- 
ducts; Hebrew poets and the Schools of the Proph- 
ets; Goldziher's investigation of the ancient Arab 
poet; poets as soothsayers and leaders; the Jinn; 
initiation of Hassan ibn Thabit; inspiration of Mu- 
hammad; Arab and Hebrew illustrations; inspira- 
tional nature of Arab poetry; shaHr, kahin, tarr&j; 
hatij, bath qSl, al-Khadir; shayfan; fetish cursing 
of Arabs and Hebrews; kahins and saj c ; Qur^dn in 
safi; story of King Hujr; Muhammad's inspira- 
tional seizures; Ibn Sayyad; Muhammad's prob- 
lem and germinative conceptions; essentially a 
dualistic mystic. 

Lecture II 41 

Ibn Khaldun, his life, philosophy of history and 
psychology; his views on inspiration and its place 
in the world; the five signs of a prophet: (a) exhib- 
iting trance conditions; Muhammad's pathological 
state; (b) a pure disposition; (c) summoning to piety 
and good works; (d) in a respected position; («) 
working miracles; different theories of miracles; 
the nature of the Muslim universe; the prophet's 
place in it; the soul that tends upward; the 
senses and the powers of the mind; the three kinds 
of souls; (a) the learned of this world; (ft) saints, 



(c) prophets; how prophetic inspiration comes 
down; its grievousness; soothsayers (kahins) and 
their inspiration; imperfect prophets; use material 
inducers and excitants; rhymed prose or saf; Ibn 
§ayyad; do soothsayers cease when prophets are 
sent? the pelted devils; soothsayers pale in the 
light of prophecy; astrological doctrine of philos- 
ophers on them; their attitude to prophets; the 
Qur'dn composed in saj c ; how did Muhammad 
bring on his trances ? or could he induce them ? 

Lecture III 70 

Ibn Khaldun's doctrine of dreaming; its causes 
and kinds; "one of the six and forty parts of 
prophecy;" the comforters; how the rational soul 
apprehends and works; its relation to the animal 
spirit; the cause of sleep; immediate spiritual per- 
ception by the soul; the clothing of its results by the 
imagination; the three kinds of dreams; methods 
of inducing dreams; al-halumiya; automatic paral- 
lels to these; Muslim oneirocritics; Muhammad's 
example; criteria of true dreams; examples; al- 
Ghazzali on the nature of the vision of Allah and 
Muhammad; his doctrine of images or symbols; 
Ibn Khallikan's dreams; al-Beruni's dream; 
Nasir ibn Khusraw's dream; aI-Ash c ari's dreams; 
Burton's anecdote of a vision of c AlI; al-Ghazzali's 
dream; Ibn Batuta. 

Lecture IV ■ • • ■ 95 

The soul of wizards and its place among human 
souls; the essence and form of the soul; the child 
soul; the two apprehensions of the soul; appre- 
hension through "scrying;" divination through the 
insane; "possession;" "automatic speech;" the 
'■ana]; the kahins; the speaking head; artificial 
death by asceticism; Ibn Hntut.i and the vo/>is; 



attitude of Sufis; their disapproval of seeking such 
things; their miracles; idiot saints; their relation 
to the ritual law and the Unseen; geomancy; mys- 
terious powers of numbers and letters; origin of 
this idea; difference between magic and the science 
of talismans; legal status of both; source of their 
sciences; "Nabataean Agriculture;" Geber; Mas- 
lama of Madrid; the true basis of magic accord- 
ing to Ibn Khaldun; souls of magicians of three 
kinds : (a) working through the will; (b) using talis- 
manic help; (c) affecting imagination; reality of 
magic; in the Qur^an, the ancient world, Egypt; 
Ibn Khaldun's own experiences; the "slitters;" 
"amicable numbers;" doctrine of philosophers 
on these; compare "mental" and "Christian 
science;" distinction from miracle; Sufi miracles; 
the Eye; "interest" and "utilitarianism" in Islam; 
Ibn Khaldun's position; "interesting" in Arabic 
and Turkish; Muslim mysticism utilitarian; al- 
Ghazzali; two views of Averroes; magic for the 
modern Muslim; Lane's experiences; Professor 
E. G. Browne's experiences; the paradox in it all; 
"God's in his world." 

Lecture V 130 

Ibn Khaldun and the Jinn; his attitude to meta- 
physics; a Ghazzalian pragmatist and a mystic; 
his view of "obscure" verses of the Qur'an; the 
Jinn in old Arabia; Robertson Smith on them; the 
Jinn in Muhammad's time; his attitude; later le- 
gend and theology on Muhammad's intercourse 
with them; their position under the law; traces of 
a theological effect of the Fall; Iblis in Europe and 
Islam; the Jinn and HarQn ar-Rashid; marriage 
between men and Jinn; the saints and the Jinn; 
al-Ghazzali's experience; legend of c Abd al-Qadir; 
tales from Ibn c Arabi; ash-Shaian! and the Jinn; 



devotees of the Jinn; attitude of philosophers; al- 
Farabi; have the Jinn reason ( c aqt) ? Avicenna; 
Muslim attitude in general; Professor E. G. 
Browne's story; comment; Bayle St. John's ex- 
perience; Muslimate westerners. 

Lecture VI 157 

Recapitulation; saints and the emotional religious 
life in Islam; Islam a mystical faith; its varying 
degrees; saints as teachers; begging friars; 
darwish fraternities; the Qadirites; organization 
of fraternities; the Sufi hierarchy; comparison 
and contrast with organization of Roman Church; 
Ibn Khaldun's philosophy of Sufi history; deriva- 
tion of Sufi; the §ufi ladder of "states;" as a 
written science; rending the veil of sense; transi- 
tion to metaphysics; relation of God to the world; 
unity and multiplicity; influence of Ismallites and 
ShPites; Sufiism under four heads: (a) discipline 
of the soul; (ft) unveiling of the Unseen; (c) con- 
trol of material things; (d) wild expressions in 
ecstasy; al-Ghazzali as an example; his auto- 
biography; search for ultimate truth; the depths 
of skepticism; the mercy of God; the seekers of 
his day; his study of Sjufiism; the snares of the 
world; his conversion; his flight; life as a Sufi 
religious; experiences; the mystic union with 
God; the phenomena of the inner life as a proof 
of the Unseen; his doctrine of man's nature; the 
"heart" and its sickness; the medicine of the law; 

Lecture VII 195 

Hypnotic and antinomian saints; Molla Shah; 
Tawakkul Beg; virtues of Qur. cxii; opening the 
spiritual world by thought transference; colored 
photisms; case of Dira Shukoh; of Princess 


F5$ima; woman in Islam; Lane's two waii friends; 
the wandering ascetic life; order in the Muslim Un- 
seen; the will and personality of Allah; pathways 
to reality; the religious life in general; emotional 
effects of pilgrimage; Hadgi Khan — a modern 
instance; Islam and Roman Christendom. 

Lecture VIII 220 

The discipline of the traveler on his way through 
the world; al-Ghazzali's doctrine of the "heart;" 
definition of terms: "heart;" "spirit;" exoteric 
and esoteric; "flesh" or "soul;" "intelligence;" 
the armies of God, visible and invisible, material 
and spiritual; the journey to God; the body as 
a vehicle; its needs; the armies of the heart; al- 
Ghazzali's allegories thereof; a king in his king- 
dom; the leaguer of the City of Mansoul; a hunter 
with horse and dog; man's knowledge and will; 
how he comes to them; between the beasts and 
the angels; under his hide a pig, a dog, a devil, a 
sage; "our hearts are restless;" the heart as an 
instrument of knowledge; the mirror of the Unseen 
and its defects; created for God and containing 
God; the revelation therein; its degrees; classifi- 
cation of kinds of faith; "Everything is perishing 
save His Face;" Allahu dkbar; the Reality and 
absorption in it; ittihad; fana; kinds of knowledge, 
all ultimately inspirational. 

Lecture IX 252 

Sources of man's knowledge; Wham; wahy; the 
mirror and the Preserved Tablet; the veils of sense 
and their removal; al-Ghazzali's epistemology; atti- 
tude of §ufis; the method of the seeker; Allah/ 
Allah! auto-hypnosis; Tennyson; "Kim;" LaUaha 
ill&-U8k; jadhba versus sulUk; darwlshes b$~ 
shar* and U-shar<; the Naqshbandite farlqa; by 



dhihr; by contemplation; with a shaykh; al- 
Khagir's addition; objections of speculative theo- 
logians; heart insight versus study; al-Ghazzall's 
illustrations: (a) "the eternal deep;" the mystery 
of the body and the mind; the two doorways; 
(b) the decorated vestibule; the purifying of the 
soul; saving faith; legal soundness of method; 
stories of saints; the miserliness of ash-Shibll; 
Sbayban and his lion; another lion; veridical 
hallucinations; the heart sways between the world 
of the senses and the Unseen. 

Lecture X 274 

Temptations that assail the heart; the "whisper- 
ing" of the devil; its meaning, and how the devil 
rules through it; the two traveling companions; 
everyone has a devil; his devices; how to cut 
off his rule; man and his fleshly nature; asceti- 
cism; the avenues of the devil's approach; 
anger and fleshly lust; Moses and the devil; 
envy and cupidity; Noah and the devil; fulness 
of feeding; John, son of Zacharias and the 
devil; love of adorning; importuning men; haste; 
"the oracles are dumb;" money; miserliness; parti- 
sanship in theology; study of theology by the 
masses; suspicion of Muslims; how to guard these 
avenues; purifying the heart and "thought" of 
God; formulae; Muhammad's own experiences; 
medicine on an empty stomach; are there many 
devils? the family of the devil; the devil, Adam 
and the Lord; has the devil a form and can he 
be seen? a symbol or a true form? parallel of 
Ibn c Arabi's story of Jinn and Irish leprechauns; 
al-Ghazzali's philosophy of spirits in general; the 
relative culpability of evil thoughts in the heart; an 
analysis; can whispering of the devil be entirely 
cut off? its three phases; extreme instability of 


the heart; three kinds of hearts; Allah's abso- 
lute guidance aright and astray; "These are in the 
Fire, and I care not;" the end of the matter; 
escape of the Muslim mystic from orthodox the- 
ology into pantheism. 



You may remember how Robertson of Brighton 
used to say, speaking of his sermons and their inspir- 
ation, "I cannot light my own fire; I must convey 
a spark from another's hearth." The same idea 
and the same expression occur in Islam. Muham- 
mad, following the usage and speech of the desert, 
tells (Qur 3 dn, xx, 10; xxvii, 7) how Moses left 
his family and went aside to the Burning Bush to 
seek from it a brand, a qabas, for their own fire, 
Thence iqlibds, "brand-seeking," persists in the 
rhetorical language of Islam, for such borrowing 
of fire from predecessors. Permit me, then, having 
both Christian and Muslim authority, to quote, by 
way of text for these lectures, a couple of sentences 
from Mr. William James's Varieties of Religious 
Experience, that give very precisely the thesis which 
I propose to set before you as illustrated in Islam. 
At the beginning of his third lecture, when approach- 
ing the broad question of the reality of the Unseen, 
he says: 

Were one asked to characterize the life of religion in the 
broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that 


it consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and that 
our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves 
thereto. This belief and this adjustment are the religious 
attitude in the soul. 

This religious attitude, then, as developed in 
Islam, I desire to put before you now. With some 
danger of cross-division it can be analyzed into three 
points; first, the reality of the Unseen, of a back- 
ground to life, unattainable to our physical senses; 
second, man's relation to this Unseen as to faith and 
insight therein; that is, the whole emotional religious 
life ranging, at the simplest, from a prayerful attitude 
and a sense of God's presence to the open vision 
of the mystic with all its complicated theological 
consequences; and, lastly, the discipline of the 
traveler on his way to such direct knowledge of the 
divine, and during his life in it. My training in the 
schools of philosophy is of the slenderest, but I think 
I see in these three a metaphysical, a psychological, 
and an ethical side to our inquiry. Let me beg your 
indulgence, however, if my philosophical footing 
ever slips. I am neither metaphysician, psycholo- 
gist, nor ethicist; I am simply a student of Arabic 
and of Islam who desires to suggest to those who 
are metaphysicians, psychologists, and ethicists 
some of the problems which lie for their science 
in that vast and so broadly unknown territory. 
Regard me, then, as a traveler who brings back 
from far wanderings but partially assorted and 


understood gatherings, which scientific geographers, 
botanists, zoologists, may further examine and 
classify. That these will repay the trouble may, 
I think, be taken for granted by those who consider 
that in them has lain the faith for life and death of 
millions of the world's best minds during twelve 
centuries of time and over a quarter of the earth in 
space. It is surely worth our while to turn some 
little of our attention from the so often childish 
speculations of Indian sages, and see what contribu- 
tions have been made to the final problems of time 
and eternity by races far more nearly akin to us 
in thought, if not in language. 

But from this caplatio benevolentiae let me return. 
What, first, is to be said on the reality of the Unseen 
in Islam? What part does that world play; how 
close is it; what is its relationship to the everyday 
life of Muslims? How do Muslims think of it? 
Over this, the reality and nature, for Islam, of the 
Unseen we must spend some little time. The 
Muslim attitude is so different from our trodden 
paths of thought and experience that only a patient 
turning of all its sides and an accumulation of 
example and illustration can make it real to us. 
I shall have to ask your indulgence for much simple 
translating in what follows. You want the views 
of the Muslim writers and thinkers as they have 
rendered them, and not any lucubrations of mine. 

It is plain, I think, and admitted that the con- 


ception of the Unseen is much more immediate and 
real to the Oriental than to the western peoples. 
I use these two terms in the broadest fashion. But 
the cause is by no means so plain, and upon it much 
shipwreck has been made by ingenious students 
of race and race characteristics. There are also, on 
both sides, large modifying elements which seem, 
from time to time, almost to upset the general law. 
If we say that the Semitic peoples, as a race, believe 
in and bow in reverence to an Unseen, we may be 
met by the curious skepticism of the Arabs them- 
selves, a skepticism which nearly baffled Muhammad, 
and which appears at the present day more or less 
through the entire desert. The Arabs show them- 
selves not as especially easy of belief, but as hard- 
headed, materialistic, questioning, doubting, scoffing 
at their own superstitions and usages, fond of tests 
of the supernatural — tempting God, in a word — and 
all this in a curiously light-minded, almost childish 
fashion. They had diviners, it is true, as we shall 
see hereafter, and were ruled partly by their guidance, 
but these had always to be prepared to permit tests 
of their powers and to be regarded with general 
suspicion. Nothing for the Arab succeeded like 
success, as Muhammad discovered, and there was 
no balance of faith to carry them over the cracks in 
the supernatural scheme. They demanded of 
Muhammad signs, and their ideas of signs were of 
the crudest, most non-spiritual description; the 


Jews, in their most trying days, had not the same 
blindness as these Arabs for non-material things. 
On the other side, take Europe and faith as devel- 
oped there. We find everywhere, and again and 
again, the possibility and the actuality of just such 
absolute acquiescence in and acceptance of an 
immediately impinging unseen world, which we 
commonly ascribe to the devout East. Hereafter, 
I shall have to tell you many tales, queer to gro- 
tesqueness, simple to childishness, devout to ecstasy, 
marvelous to madness, of oriental saints and their 
vicissitudes, but I venture to say that you can paral- 
lel them all, down to details, in the Legenda Aurea 
of Jacobus a Voragine, archbishop of Genoa in the 
late thirteenth century. 

Take, for example, the fastidiousness as to their 
place of burial so often exhibited by saints after 
their death. The very same trick on their part of 
making their bier so heavy that it could not be lifted 
until the bearers had decided to grant them their 
will is found in the hagiology of both East and 
West, and several times in the Legenda Aurea. 1 
And further, it was not the West, but the supposedly 
devout East, which fell on the cynical counter-trick 
of spinning the bier round rapidly until the saint 
had lost his sense of direction and did not know 
whither he was being carried. 

■ E. g., Vol. IV, p. 170, and Vol. VII, pp. 145, 169, of the 
edition in "Temple Classics." 


Again, take the case of al-Ghazz&li, perhaps 
the greatest constructive theologian in the Muslim 
church, who died A. d. mi. He, as I trust we 
shall see in more detail hereafter, had to fight against 
unbelief of the most absolute during his whole life. 
In his earlier days it was in himself. At one time 
he touched the depth of complete skepticism and 
doubted even the operations of his own mind and the 
axioms of reason. And when, in the light of the 
mystic, he was able to see his own way again, he 
found the mass of the people round him slipping 
into similar unbelief. The creeds had broken 
down; the law of Islam was no longer respected; 
its divine origin was criticized or doubted; the 
nature and reality of prophecy were questioned. 
It was his work to build up again the breaches in the 
Muslim Zion, and that Islam exists still is largely 
due to him. It would be easy to add other testi- 
monies. In Islam, as in Christendom, he who 
seeks the ages of faith looks ever backward. 

The truth is, I am persuaded, that we commonly 
regard this acknowledged difference between East 
and West from the wrong point, and are governed 
by the wrong word. It is not really faith that is in 
question here, but knowledge; it is not the attitude 
to God, but the attitude to law. The essential 
difference in the oriental mind is not credulity as to 
unseen things, but inability to construct a system 
as to seen things. It has been well said, that the 


Oriental has the most astonishing keenness in view- 
ing, grasping, analyzing a single point, and, when 
he has finished with that point, can take up a series 
of others in the same way. But these points remain 
for him separate; he does not co-ordinate them. 
They may be contradictory; that does not trouble 
him. When he constructs systems — as he often 
does — it is by taking a single point, and spinning 
everything out of it; not by taking many points and 
building them up together. Thus, he may criticize 
one point and be quite indifferent to the consequent 
necessity, for us, at least, of criticizing other points. 
A good enough example is the oriental method, 
which I have just mentioned, of thwarting a saint's 
caprice as to his place of burial. There is no great 
devoutness of feeling there; no awe at the breaking 
in of the Unseen, and at their nearness to the direct 
working of God. There is simply the fact of this 
obstinate, if deceased, saint, and, "Well, we'll try. 
to rattle him," as we may imagine them saying in the 
slang of the bazaar. Familiarity breeds contempt. 
The supernatural, to them, is the familiar — the 
usual; only it is not subject to law, and they never 
dream that it can be. The most they can do is to 
set their wits against it in detail. 

Start, then, with this, that the difference in the 
Oriental is not essentially religiosity, but the lack 
of the sense of law. For him, there is no immovable 
order of nature. "The army of unalterable law" 


which we see in the heavens for him may change 
and pass. There is no necessity in themselves why 
the things that have been should be the things that 
will be. You will remember that even Ecclesiastes 
looks beyond them and finds his unchanging circlings 
fixed by the will of God. So, at every turn, the 
Oriental is confronted by the possibility of unfore- 
tellable, unrationalizable difference. He is like a 
man who opens his mouth to speak, but utters what 
he would not, and cannot utter what he would. We 
would call it aphasia and construct another law. 
He recognizes that God has created for him other 
words than he. intended, instead of the words he 
did intend. It would be God's creation in either 
case. We feel vaguely that there is a divine event 
and element in the world, but it is far off. A deep, 
and for our experience, impenetrable shell separates 
us from that event and element. That shell, we 
find, is subject to law; we can depend upon its 
action and reaction. We have never pierced beyond 
it, and are tolerably sure that we never shall; that 
we shall always find it, however far we go; that it 
is all the world for us. But to the Oriental, this 
shell is the merest film. The strict theologian of 
Islam would tell him that there was no such shell 
at all; that all action and reaction spring from the 
immediate will of God. This, probably, would be 
too hard a doctrine for the wayfaring man in Islam, 
but he is very well assured of the thinness of the 


shell. He knows that the supernatural has often 
peered through it at him. Our ghost-stories and 
strange experiences are everyday things for him 
which he never dreams of investigating, for he never 
doubts them. Our investigations are really attempts 
to bring these things under law; at that, he would 
simply shrug his shoulders. 

This being so, it is evident that anything is possible 
to the Oriental. The supernatural is so near that it 
may touch him at any moment. There is no sur- 
prise; and therefore there is need, in verification, 
of a small test only. In the case of our investigators 
of occult phenomena, spiritism and the like, the 
trouble is that no test, however complete, is really 
enough. There must be something wrong, is our 
attitude. But even the heathen Arabs, light minded 
and materialistic as they were, accepted their sooth- 
sayer, if he told them any single thing which they 
were assured he could not know of himself. That 
he was a soothsayer was not for them a practically 
unthinkable idea. Give them good evidence, such 
as they would accept in ordinary life, and they would 
accept anything. There are some things that we, 
in the fetters of our sense of law, cannot accept. And 
when the Oriental has once been thus touched, once 
had an impulse, however mysterious, in a certain 
direction, there may be no limits to the results. 
For example, it has been a favorite subject for 
argument, about it and about, how much the person- 


ality of Muhammad had to do in the Muslim move- 
ment; how much Islam is his individual creation, or 
merely a product of his times and circumstances. 
The fact is, I suspect, that the Arabs were just in 
this state of unstable equilibrium. His personality 
was strong enough to convince them — a sufficient 
number, at least, of them — that the shell had broken 
and the supernatural had come near. Once start, 
then, the idea that this man is a messenger from 
God and that his words are the words of God, and 
the oriental mind would carry it out to its utmost 
limits. A theory of all things in heaven and earth 
would be developed from this single idea. Other 
things might not agree with it; they would simply 
be left aside. The Oriental feels no need to explain 
everything; he simply ignores the incompatible; 
and he does so conscientiously, for he sees only one 
thing at a time. This is not deduction ; it is eduction. 
The idea is an egg from which a complete explana- 
tion of life is hatched. For example, once given 
the idea of Muhammad, it was not long before the 
Muslim mind reached the persuasion that he must 
have been the first of all creatures, created before 
all worlds, existent from the beginning of time — 
we have exactly the Arian doctrine of the person of 
Christ. Further, the fact of him became so over- 
powering that in a tradition Allah is made to declare: 
"Had it not been for thee, I had not created the 


Inability, then, to see life steadily, and see it 
whole, to understand that a theory of life must cover 
all the facts, and liability to be stampeded by a 
single idea and blinded to everything else — therein, 
I believe, is the difference between the East and 
the West. 

But I have detained you too long over my own 
speculations, uncertain in much, probably erroneous 
in much. The certain thing in it all is the thinness 
of the shell which separates the Oriental from the 
Unseen. I turn, then, to the standard breakages in 
that shell, which Islam recognizes. 

These may be roughly classified as follows, though 
the divisions, I fear, will be found often to cross: 
prophets, diviners, magic and talismans, appear- 
ances of the Jinn, dreams, saints. 

First, then, prophets and prophecy. Here I can 
begin on familiar ground. The Hebrews, a Bedawi 
tribe which abandoned the desert and turned, more 
or less, to the agricultural life, exhibit the essential 
characteristics of Arab prophetism. Nowhere does 
their unity with Arabia come out more strongly, 
and yet nowhere is the essential difference of the 
religiosity of the Hebrews more marked. Such a 
figure as Elijah, so far, at least, as the Old Testa- 
ment has preserved for us his legend, must have 
appeared again and again in the earlier desert, and 
certainly did among the saints of Islam. The 
schools of Sons of the Prophets of which from time 


to time we have fleeting glimpses can be exactly 
paralleled by the darwlsh fraternities of Islam. 
Their relations to the people, their ceremonies and 
usages, their mode of life, their ecstasies and 
religious excitements, were evidently precisely the 
same. The soil, in a word, from which the great 
prophets sprang was alike among the Hebrews and 
the Arabs. 

Let me illustrate this vital matter of soil and the 
growth therefrom by a parallel in creative literature. 
I take the case of a single poet, though the broad 
literature of a whole people always exhibits the 
same phenomena. The mind of Wordsworth was 
a constant poetic soil, and from it there sprang in 
luxuriant and bewildering tangle all manner of 
plants. The most of these were scrub and brush, 
underwood often commonplace and even grotesque. 
There only a small coterie of sworn worshipers finds 
delight. But above that scrub and brush there rise, 
from time to time, great trees, glorious in their 
unique and tranquil beauty as any beneath the 
sky of English letters. What kindly influences there 
had intervened we cannot tell; the processes of 
the poet's mind are as mysterious as that spirit of 
the Lord which leapt upon the Hebrew prophet. 
But at one time, as one has said, harshly but not 
untruly, the voice of Wordsworth is that 
of an old half-witted sheep, 
Which bleats articulate monotony 
And indicates that two and one are three. 


and at another, and that in a flash, the very heavens 
are cloven by some clear creative thought clothed 
in noble words. So after trivialities of college life 
there suddenly rises the memory of 

Newton with his prism and silent face, 
The marble index of a mind forever 
Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone. 

Or in still stranger context of placid commonplace 
there is struck, one of the half-dozen times in all 
English verse, the clear faery note, 

or lady of the mere, 
Lone sitting by the shores of old romance. 

What spirit touched Wordsworth then, we know not, 
but we do know that some relation lay between his 
painful crawlings and those lofty flights. 

So, when we turn from the common soul of prophet- 
ism to the great Hebrew prophets, how wide is the 
difference! Isaiah — any of the Isaiahs — rises from 
the howling, frenzied mob of nebhPim; of them and 
not of them. He could have part in their orgies, 
yet his head was high above their sensuous fogs, his 
brain and conscience were never swept away by 
their gusts of passionate ecstasy. So Samuel moved 
clear eyed through the turbid airs of the religious 
life of his fellows. He and his like had seen the 
Lord, and the beauty of holiness was theirs. In 
these lectures, I shall not often have opportunity 
for comparison, still less for apologetics. Let me 
seize this one to say, as fixedly and broadly as in me 


is, that, while the soil of Semitic prophecy is one, 
I know nowhere in the Semitic world any appearance 
like that of the great prophets of the Hebrews. 
They stand as clear from their soil as love in Chris- 
tian marriage from the lust of the flesh, and the 
relation is much the same. 

In Islam some few attempted the same heights, 
but never reached them. Muhammad, a figure 
now strangely sympathetic and attractive, now 
repellently weak, once and again in his early life, 
has touches of the ethical glory of Amos, but never 
saw the vision of love in Hosea. In his later life he 
fell, and it is not for us to judge him. Perhaps, if 
Jeremiah had come to rule with absolute sway some 
small but conquering remnant of Judah, he, too, 
might have fallen. If Isaiah, from wazlr in Jeru- 
salem, had come to be sultan, his robes might have 
been spotted by the flesh and his soul by ambition. 
But, apart entirely from the last unhappy ten years 
of Muhammad's life, he was not of the goodly 
fellowship of the Hebrew prophets. 

Al-Ghazzali, I have mentioned already. He was 
a man of the intellectual rank of Augustine. Yet 
he was himself a darwish, and had part in their 
religious exercises. These he knew with sympathy, 
and he has, in a treatise which I have translated 
elsewhere, 1 applied the methods of science to the 

■ "Emotional Religion in Islam," Journal of tht Royal Asiatic 
Society, 1901-a. 


analysis erf their emotional and theological value. 
But though his mind was probably keener than that 
of any Hebrew, and though the root of the matter 
was in him, yet no one can mistake the difference of 
atmosphere in his writings and that of the Old 
Testament. In the latter there is the freshness of 
life and, in spite of everything, of hope; he is an 
ascetic scholastic, and all his endeavor is to gain 
assurance of the world to come. Whatever may 
have been the cause, it was well for the Hebrews that 
they were not blinded to the facts and duties of this 
life by the vision of another. Islam, like mediaeval 
Europe, could think of nothing but the unending 
hereafter with its sharply divided weal or woe. 

Yet, for all this, the soil was the same, and from it 
we must start. But here we are landed in another 
question. How wide was that soil ? How much of 
the life, thought, emotional output and literature, 
in a sense, of the people, is to be included in this 
broad prophetism ? Let me meet this with another 
question. How is it that we do not find in the ex- 
tant remains of Hebrew literature anything but the 
directly or indirectly religious? Further, and still 
more incisively, even if, by a strange chance, their 
profane literature has all been lost — there is some 
tolerably profane still in the Old Testament — why 
is there almost no mention of poets among them? 
I speak subject to correction, but I know in Hebrew 
no unmistakable word for poet; mdshH certainly is 


not. Did they classify and name poets in some 
other way? put them in some other category? 
Further, they did have stories, current among the 
people, of their heroic age, of their great warriors 
and deliverers. What were the channels down 
which these passed? Who played the part of the 
wandering gleemen, scalds, bards, minstrels of 
mediaeval Europe ? That there were such we can- 
not doubt. The desert knows them to this day. 
May I hazard another questioning answer? Was 
their part taken by nebhPim, solitary or in bands? 
Was poetry and legend — production, preservation, 
transmission — all in the Schools of the Prophets? 
This, you may say, is as absurd as to bring under 
one hood the mendicant friars and the gleemen of 
Europe. Sometimes, even these did come most 
queerly together, but that in Christendom was 
exceptional. In the Semitic world, I venture to 
say, it was the rule, and for the desert it can be 

What was the belief of the ancient Arabs as to 
the nature of poetry, and what their attitude toward 
the person of the poet ? Since Ignaz Goldziher's 
investigations, published in his Arabische Philo- 
logie, Part I, there can be no doubt as to the 
answers to these questions. The answers which the 
Arabic sources give us are those, too, which the 
analogy of other primitive peoples would suggest. 
Poetry is magical utterance, inspired by powers from 


the Unseen, and the poet is in part a soothsayer, in 
part an adviser and admonisher, and in part a hurler 
of magical formulae against his enemies. The 
most common and primitive word in Arabic for poet 
is shdHr and that means simply, "he who perceives, 
knows." In meaning it is parallel to the Hebrew 
yiddi c 6ni, but that Hebrew word never passed from 
the idea of divination to that of poetic utterance. 
On the other hand, the Hebrew mSshel, which in 
Arabic suggests only proverb, likeness, parable, 
has passed over to mean a poet of a special type, 
the utterer of reproach and malediction, whose 
words bear sure fruit. In Hebrew history, the out- 
standing example of the mdshel and an example of 
the Arabic shatir, poet, on this side of his activity, is 
the remarkable figure of Balaam. So in the Semitic 
world the bard and the prophet join. Balaam was 
evidently thought to stand in some very real relation 
to the unseen world, a relation which gave his 
words supernatural force — if they were once uttered 
and not checked on his lips by a higher power; the 
poet of the Arabs drew his knowledge, wisdom, skill, 
and destroying utterance from his relationship to the 
Jinn, those beings which for the heathen Arabs were 
as the fauns, nymphs, and satyrs of the classical 
world, which often seem to have been regarded as 
simple divinities and which Islam has accepted as a 
class of created beings and pictured to itself partly 
as Muslim, partly as unbelieving, and partly as 


diabolic in nature. Such, then, is the situation in a 

But let me illustrate in detail. A good example 
is given in the stories told about Hassan ibn Thabit, 
a close personal follower of Muhammad, and, in a 
sense, his poet-laureate. Muhammad in general 
was opposed to poetry; the poets were mostly 
opposed to him; but Hassan upheld his cause with 
poetry of a kind, and was especially useful in re- 
plying to satirical and abusive attacks. But this 
Hassan, while still a young man in the days before 
Islam, and before he had made any verses, was 
initiated into poetry by a female Jinnl. She met 
him in one of the streets of Medina, leapt upon him, 
pressed him down, and compelled him to utter 
three verses of poetry. Thereafter he was a poet, 
and his verses came to him as to other Arab poets 
from the direct inspiration of the Jinn. He refers 
himself to his "brothers of the Jinn" who weave for 
him artistic words, and tells how weighty lines have 
been sent down to him from heaven in the night 
season. The curious thing is that the expressions 
he uses are exactly those used of the "sending 
down," that is, revelation, of the Qufan. Evidently 
in his case there was a struggle between the idea 
of the Jinn — those half or wholly heathen spirits — as 
inspirers and the divine inspirations of the angels. 

Further, the story runs that Muhammad used to 
set up for him a pulpit in the mosque and stand by 


in evident enjoyment, while Hassan hurled from it 
stinging verses against the enemies of Islam. This 
was one of the few occasions on which Muhammad 
seems to have tolerated poetry, and his reported 
comment is significant, "Allah aids Hassan with 
the Holy Spirit so long as he is defending or boasting 
of the Apostle of God." But by the Holy Spirit 
here, you must not understand any conception like 
that of the third person of the Christian trinity. 
For Muhammad the phrase referred only to the 
angel messenger who brought to him his revela- 
tions. The theological consequences of the lack 
of the conception of the Holy Ghost, the Lord and 
Giver of Life, in Islam were wide, but this is not 
the place to enter upon them. Here Muhammad 
simply ascribed to Hassan the same kind of inspira- 
tion that he had himself, and that is remarkable 

Another point to observe is the close parallel 
between the terms used in the story of Hassan's 
initiation and that of the first revelation to Muham- 
mad. Just as Hassan was thrown down by the 
female spirit and had verses pressed out of him, so 
the first utterances of prophecy were pressed from 
Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. And the resem- 
blances go still farther. The angel Gabriel is 
spoken of as the companion (qarin) of Muhammad, 
just as though he were the Jinni accompanying a 
poet, and the same word, najatha, "blow upon," 


is used of an enchanter, of a Jinni inspiring a poet 
and of Gabriel revealing to Muhammad. It was, 
of course, the nightmare of Muhammad's earlier 
years — a fear of his own and an accusation of his 
enemies — that he was simply a poet possessed by a 
Jinni; it dictated his whole attitude to poets and 
poetry, and it is very plain how near the fact the 
fear and the accusation lay. He was in truth a poet 
of the old Arab type, without skill of verse, and with 
all his being given to the prophetic side of poetry. 
Add to this a strange jumble of Jewish and Christian 
conceptions, and you have the key to Muhammad. 

I need not go into detail of the many stories told 
of the intercourse between poets and their inspiring 
spirits: how a poet would sit helpless without an 
idea, until his "comrade" would call to him from the 
corner of the chamber; how another, in desperate 
need, saddled his camel, rode off into the desert, and 
having come to a certain place, alighted and cried 
out, "Come to the aid of your brother, your 
brother!" how the aid came swiftly, the poet lay 
down, and did not rise until he had one hundred and 
thirteen lines. Of such stories, which later came 
to be told in jest, there are many. 

But can we draw the connection closer between 
the poet and the prophet ; and especially between the 
Arabs and the Hebrews ? You will remember how 
wc arc told in Numbers 9:18, 23, that the children 
of Israel broke up camp and encamped according 


to the word of Yahwe" at the hand of Moses. Through 
Moses, that is, came the guidance of Yahwe" for these 
significant elements in the nomad life, the right time 
and place for encamping and departing. Now it 
is curious that among the old Arab tribes exactly the 
same place was taken by the poets, the shatirs. 
For instance, of Zuhayr ibn Janab, the poet, it is 
narrated : 

Whenever Zuhayr said, "Ho, the tribe journeyeth," then 
it journeyed; and whenever he said, "Ho, the tribe abideth," 
they alighted and abode. 

Similarly we are told of others. 
Here are guidances cast in solemn formulas : 
When Allah sent the breaking of the dam of c Arim on the 
people of Marib, which was the tribe of Azd, there arose 
their leader and said, "Whoever has a sufficient camel and a 
milk-skin and a strong water skin, let him turn from the 
herds of cattle, for this is a day of care, and let him betake 
himself to Ath-thinyu min shann — it is said to be in ash- 
Shara, and those who settled there were Azd of Shanu'a; 
then he continued, "And whoever is in misery and poverty 
and patience against the straits of this world, let him betake 
himself to Batn Marr" — those who dwelt there were the 
tribe Khuza'a; then he continued, "And who of you desireth 
wir^e and leaven, and rule and government and brocade and 
silk, let him betake himself to Busra and al-Hufayr" — these 
are in the land of Syria and those who dwelt there were the 
tribe of Ghassan; then he continued, "and who of you 
hath far-aiming purpose and a strong camel and a new 
provender-sack, let him betake himself to the New Castle of 
c Uman" — those who settled there were Azd of c Uman; then 
he continued, "And who desireth things rooted in mud and 


nourished of dust, let him betake himself to Yathrib, rich in 
palm trees" — those who settled there were the tribes of Aws 
and Khazraj.' 

All this is in the solemn language of rhymed 
prose, the language of the soothsayers, and the 
leader divides his people in a scene not unlike that 
of the blessing of Jacob or of Moses. You will 
notice, too, how the narrator weaves in notes exactly 
in the style of Deuteronomy. 

Still more in the tone of these Blessings is a narra- 
tive that has come down to us of the part played by 
Sawda bint Zuhra, the Prophetess, or Kahina, of her 
tribe, that of Quraysh, in prophesying the birth of the 
future warner of his people. She bade them bring 
to her all their daughters, "For," said she, "one of 
them is a woman-warner, and will bear a man- 
warner." As they passed before her, she uttered 
over each a saying, the truth of which time showed, 
until Amina, the future mother of Muhammad 
appeared and was shown as the warner spoken of.' 

But to return — Such a poet as speaks here is 
called the leader (q&Hd) of his tribe. Another 
boasts himself to Muhammad as their poet and 
representative. To another his tribe intrusted all 
its warlike undertakings. Another tribe rejected 
the warning of their poet, just as the Hebrews those 
of their prophets, and repented it. Here is his 

■, Vol. XIX, p. 95. 

• Damlrl, Vol. II, p. 338, edition of Cairo, A. H. 1313. 


speech, and you will observe how closely its tone 
resembles that of a prophecy: 

Go not in against the Banu <Amir; I of men know best of 
them. I have fought with them, and they have fought 
with me; I have overcome them and they have overcome 
me. I never saw a people more restless in a halting-place 
than the Banu c Amir. By Allah, I can find no likeness to 
them but Bravery itself, for they abide not in their hole for 
restlessness, and will surely come out to you. By Allah, if 
ye sleep this night, ye will not know when they descend 
upon you. 

Of the poet sitting as judge like Samuel, Dr. 
Goldziher can quote no case from heathen Arabia. 
But that certainly is due to cur very defective sources. 
It must be regarded as significant that in very early 
Muslim times, the poet al-Akhtal, though a Christian, 
sat in the mosque of his tribe as judge. Evidently 
this points at once to old pre-Muslim custom, and to 
a religious authority and dignity encircling the poet. 

We must not, therefore, think of the poet as being 
given this position by any respect for the beauty or 
vigor of his verses, or even for his human insight 
and wisdom in matters of tribal conduct and politics. 
The idea that the Arab tribes so respected their 
poets — in the first instance at least — because of their 
keen artistic sense, their appreciation of the beauties 
of poetry, must be given up. Their attitude was 
much more practical. The scparateness of the 
poet from other men had struck them. So, too 
had the way in which his verses came to him, out 


of the sky apparently, apart from his labor and 
will. We must remember that the Arab poet was 
a lyrist, first and last; intensely subjective and per- 
sonal as regarded both himself and his hearers. 
When he sang before the tribe on the day of battle 
and onset, it was as though a spirit sang through 
him. When he brooded in the council and then 
suddenly arose and flung out his judgment in clang- 
ing words and ringing rhymes, it was as the utter- 
ance of a god. From time to time, too, in the 
intense nervous susceptibility of the Arab race in 
the keen desert air, there fell upon him cataleptic 
rigors, swoons, and dreams, from which he returned 
with strange words in his mouth. If any could 
hear or see the Jinn in the desert stillness and solitude, 
or in the dark recesses of the mountains, it would 
be he with his strained nerves and loaded imagina- 
tion. Often, as to Socrates, his own decision must 
have come as with a voice from without, and it 
would take little to add a visible form. This night- 
side of human nature, in which the nerves and the 
senses conspire to mislead, is only gradually being 
cleared to us, but we know enough of its possibili- 
ties to see fully how the Arabs thought their poets 
were illumined from the Unseen, and could make 
little if any distinction between them and diviners 
and prophets. 

As a matter of fact, the Arabic writers on these old 
things are put to it to distinguish between the 


shdHr, "poet," as we have called him, the kahin or 
diviner, and the c arrdf, also a kind of diviner. All 
were supernaturally guided, but the last was on the 
lowest step. He told — again like Samuel — about 
stolen things, and where wandered beasts might be 
found. Curiously enough we find him consulted, 
too, as a physician; perhaps with thought of the lost 
or stolen health. The kahin foretold the future and 
secret things generally. He was limited mostly to a 
certain sanctuary — you will remember, of course, 
that kahin is exactly the Hebrew kShen, "priest" — 
and there he had to be consulted. He was, as Gold- 
ziher, following Wellhausen, well puts it, an institu- 
tion. The shaHr, on the other hand, was free. He 
was the counselor of his people, and his counsel 
was inspired from the Unseen, by the Jinn, exactly 
as was the case with the others. But he was also 
a man and a warrior, free as the desert, and bound 
to no sacred shrine, no Urim and Thummim. Not 
only wisdom came to him but words, beautiful or 
fiery and terrible; which could give life or death 
by a mysterious power in them, but also give delight 
by their sheer loveliness. And this belief long sur- 
vived the coming of Islam. The oriental poet can- 
not rid himself of the faith that verses come from 
without. His method is inspirational, not that of 
the labor of the file. If he is a religious man, a 
h&tij, a wandering voice, the Hebrew bath qdl, will 
reach trim, or he may have an interview even with 


al-Khadir, that undying wandering saint, the most 
picturesque figure in Muslim mythology, who jour- 
neys through the earth, rescuing, guiding, coun- 
seling. Even as late as the seventh Muslim century 
we find a Hanbalite theologian, the narrowest sect 
of all, arguing that the Qur'dn must be uncreated, 
for otherwise it would be no better than poetry with 
which God, as is accepted, inspires the poet. But 
if the poet were not a religious man, or if the attitude 
to all poetry were hostile, then its inspiration was 
easy to seek elsewhere. The Jinn and the devils 
have become hopelessly confused in Islam, and we 
can never be sure whether with the word shaytan, 
"devil," an Arabic writer means the personal evil 
spirit borrowed from Christianity and Judaism, or 
merely a malignant member of the Jinn. So it was 
easy to say that the inspiration of poetry was from 
the devil, and even to brand all poetry as the Qur'dn 
of the devil. 

But all that was long after our period, and we 
must go back to the winged words of the old Arab 
poets. Our connection with Balaam is not yet 
absolutely made out, but it must be beginning to 
sweep before you. It is well known how among 
primitive peoples there has always been supposed 
to lie in words a certain fetish-power. Words for 
them are things; they arc strict realists. So the 
curse once spoken is an existent entity, which must 
strike and rest somewhere; if not the one against 


whom it is hurled, then the hurler himself. In 
Islam this has endured longer than anywhere else. 
I doubt whether in the scholastic theology of any 
other people you could find passages like the fol- 

When two men curse one smother, the curse falls on him 
who deserves it; if neither deserves it, then it returns and 
falls upon the Jews, who conceal what God has revealed. 

And again: 

When a curse is sent against any one, it goes toward him, 
and if it finds access to him it goes in unto him. But if it 
finds no access, it returns to its Lord, whose are Might and 
Majesty, and says "O my Lord, so and so sent me against 
so and so, but I find no access to him; so what dost thou 
command me?" He then says, "Return whither thou 

But all this is only a reduction to scheme and 
method of a belief which Islam, from the first, has 
held unshaken, and before Islam the earlier Semitic 
faiths. It meets us amongst the Hebrews; there 
the story of Balaam is unmistakable. And in early 
Arabia it was the custom that the poet of a tribe, on 
the day of battle, should advance and recite satirical 
and abusive verses against the opponents. This was 
not simply to hearten his own tribe, or to strike with 
shame and confusion the other. There was a magi- 
cal power in his words, and they show the traces 
often, as preserved in the dlwdns of the greater poets, 
of simple cursing. 


Similarly, among the Hebrews, Goliath mocked 
and ridiculed (hfreph) the armies of Israel. In all 
this it was a spirit which had entered the poet, and 
which spoke through him. Hence the magical efficacy 
of his words ; he was only the channel of communi- 
cation along which the unseen world worked. Ges- 
tures, too, and symbols often aided. So long as the 
hands of Moses were upheld, even mechanically, 
the Israelites prevailed against Amalek. In later 
Muslim times certain poets came to have the repu- 
tation of possessing peculiarly unlucky tongues. 
Whom they cursed, some misfortune befel; and 
we have even traces of their using for the purpose 
certain symbolic actions and methods of dress. 

I have now, I think, made tolerably clear the 
Semitic belief that the poet was inspired — was a 
votes, in short — and that his poem, or rather song, 
was a carmen, a charm. For further details I would 
refer you to the epoch-making paper of Dr. Goldzi- 
her, which I have already used. Whether you will 
follow me in my further explanation of the absence 
of definite references to poets and poetry in the 
Hebrew literature — that they are swept into the 
general category of prophecy and prophets — docs 
not greatly matter for my present object. That 
poetry and prophecy, for the early Arabs and He- 
brews, both go back to inspiration from the Unseen, 
and arc, for many purposes, a practical unit, I now 
take for granted. 


Before dealing directly with the position of the 
prophet among the Arabs and in Islam, it may be in 
place here to take up the kdhin, or soothsayer. As I 
have already said, this word is the exact linguistic 
equivalent for the Hebrew kdhen, and — without 
entering on the vexed questions which lie round that 
word — I would only remind you that Potiphar, 
Jethro, and David's sons are all called kdhens in the 
Old Testament. In Arabia the matter is much 
simpler. The kdhins were soothsayers, connected 
with a sanctuary, or sometimes with a tribe, and 
played much the same part as Eli and Samuel at 
Shiloh. All mysterious and obscure things seem to 
have been referred to them. They were judges, but 
they also foretold the future and the Unseen. How 
real this was to the Arabs of Muhammad's time is 
evident from the fact that he felt compelled to admit 
their foreknowledge, if only in part, and to ascribe 
that part — in agreement, probably, with Arab be- 
lief — to the help of the Jinn. 

But what in them most claims our attention is the 
invariable form of their utterance, which was the 
form of utterance, also, of all mysterious knowledge 
limited to a narrow circle, and professionally guarded. 
As the Greek oracles were couched in verse, so the 
oracles of the Arab kdhins were cast in that prim- 
itive verse which was called saj c , literally "pigeon- 
cooing." You will remember in Isaiah (8:19) how 
the Yidde'dntm chirp and mutter. The word there 


for "mutter" (hag&) is used also of the cooing of the 
pigeon, and there seems little question that we have 
an allusion to a similar phenomenon. This saf, 
which has now become the normal rhetorical form 
of language in Islam, consists essentially of a series 
of short phrases in prose — that is without fixed meter, 
but it may be with rhythm — all rhyming together. 
Reduce the rhythm to rule, and monorhymed verse 
appears; take away the rhymes, and you have more 
or less rhythmical prose. This rhymed prose, then, 
was the essential characteristic of the speech of the 
kahins, and is evidently a very elementary first 
feeling-out toward verse. You will remember that 
it appears from time to time in Hebrew. Riddles 
and the like are cast in it; and some long pas- 
sages, such as Job, chap. 10, and Proverbs, chap. 
31, exhibit monorhyme, though incompletely. But 
among the Hebrews, there is no such limitation of it 
to messages dealing with the mysterious and the 
Unseen, as we find among the Arabs at the time of 
Muhammad and immediately before. With the 
Hebrews it appears to be simply a literary form; if 
we may speak of literature, where there need not be 
letters. Among the Arabs poetical form had fully 
developed, with all its wealth of meters, and the 
primitive saj c survived as the vehicle of only the 
most primitive mode's of poetry, the shamanistic 
utterances of the kahins. But that this saf, in those 
early days, was fully recognized as a form of poetry 


(shitr) and not as such a separate literary form as it 
came to be in later Islam is perfectly clear. 

The reason for this brings us at once to Muham- 
mad. What are we to think of him as a literary 
artist? To what form of literary art current in 
his time did he fall heir ? The answer is very 
simple, and will at once come to any one who reads 
a few lines of the Qufan, especially of its older 
portions. The Qufan is written in rhymed prose 
throughout. The portions rhymed, verses as we 
may call them, vary greatly in length. In the 
earlier chapters these verses are short, just as the 
style is living and fiery; in the later chapters they 
are of lumbering length, prosaic and slow, and the 
rhyme comes in with often a most absurd effect. 
It is very plain that Muhammad's first utterances 
were in genuine kdhin form and kdhin spirit; that 
they boiled forth from him as though under uncon- 
trollable external pressure. Here is a curious nar- 
rative from the heathen times which gives an excel- 
lent picture of a kdhin under prophetic influence. 

King Hujr, the father of the great pre-Islamic 
poet, Imr al-Qays, had grievously oppressed the 
Banu Asad and driven them from their territory. 
The author of the Aghdni, an immense collection of 
pre-Islamic and early post-Islamic history, legend 
and song, then goes on thus in his life of Imr al- 
Qays (Vol. VIII, 66) : 

Then the Band Asad advanced until, when they were a 


day's journey from Tihama, their Kahin, who was c Awf ibn 
RabFa, prophesied and said unto them, "O my servants!" 
They said, "With thee! O our Lord!" He said, "Who is 
the king, the ruddy one, the all-conqueror, the unconquered, 
among camels as if they were a herd of gazelles, with no 
clamor by his head ? He! his blood is scattered wide 1 He, 
tomorrow, is the first of the stripped and spoiled !" They said, 
"Who is it, O our Lord?" He said, "If my heaving soul 
were not disquieted, I would tell you that he is Hujr openly." 
Then they mounted all, every beast broken and unbroken, 
and the day had not risen upon them when they came upon 
the army of Hujr, and charged upon his tent. 

The story goes on how the words of the kahin 
were fulfilled to the letter, but we have no further 
interest with that. Our point is the manner and 
tone of this prophecy. The word which I have 
rendered, "he prophesied," takahhana, means, "a 
prophetic fit came upon him;" it is evident that 
he, for the time, was out of himself. The form of 
his utterance is the rhymed prose (saf) of which I 
have spoken, the language peculiar to the ecstatic 
life. He speaks, you will notice, to the people, not 
as their fellow, but directly as their God; they are 
his "servants," strictly "slaves." They reply with 
the formula used only to a God, "With thee ! O our 
Lord I" Labbayka yd rabband. The phenomena of 
the double personality are most curious. At one 
moment his voice is the direct voice of God; at 
another, he is hampered by his laboring and dis- 
quieted human soul. The metaphor is of boiling 
water and high-running waves. 


Now, all this is exactly paralleled in Muhammad's 
early utterances. They form pictures like this, and 
they are as if spoken by Allah himself. And his 
later utterances were cast in this form only because 
he had begun in it. That was the way in which 
prophets gave forth their message; he had begun 
in that way, and must keep it up to the bitter end. 
Probably, if Muhammad had been in a state to 
realize from the first, all that was implied in the use 
of this form he would have done anything rather 
than use it. It identified him at once with the 
kahins as a class, and, as one possessed by a JinnI — 
so only could his contemporaries explain him — 
connected him directly with the old Arabian heathen- 
ism and polytheism from which he was striving to 
break loose. But the spirit came upon him in his 
hours of weakness and solitude, and naturally the 
form which it took and its manifestations were those 
characteristic of appearances and workings from 
the Unseen in the world of his time. That he was 
subject to fits of some kind can be open to no doubt. 
The narratives are too precise, and his own fears 
too evidently genuine. That he was possessed by a 
JinnI — for him, with his beliefs, an evil spirit — was 
his first thought, and only gradually did he come to 
the conviction that this was divine inspiration, and 
not diabolical obsession. 

But it is plain that these seizures, to which he was 
liable, and his general condition puzzled him to the 


end. When he had worked out the practical con- 
clusion that they were the means of divine inspiration, 
he continued to be interested in allied phenomena. 
In part he was driven to this. For example, he had 
to explain how the kahins were sometimes right in 
their predictions. But one very singular group of 
traditions shows him puzzling over the case of a 
Jewish boy named Ibn Sayyad, who exhibited 
exactly the same phenomena as he himself. Nat- 
urally the subject is obscure in the extreme; the 
traditionists have no liking for it. But on that 
very account these narratives may be taken as 
genuine. The boy had just attained to puberty, 
i. e., was some twelve or thirteen years old. He was 
liable to epileptic or cataleptic fits, and in these was 
wrapped up in a rough mantle 1 and lay muttering 
to himself. In this way he was supposed to have 
revelations, and appears to have been regarded by 
the Jews of al-Madlna as a prophet of their own. 
One tradition is that Muhammad met him playing 
with other boys, struck him on the back with his 
hand, and said, "Dost thou testify that I am the 
messenger of God ?" He looked at him and said, 
"I testify that thou art the messenger of the Gen- 
tiles." Then he continued, "I testify that I am 
the messenger of God." Muhammad struck him 
to bruising,' and then said, "I believe in God and 

' d. Qur. Ixxiii, lxxiv. 

' The word is uncertain; cf. Goldziher, Muhammedanischf 
Studien, Vol. II, 244. 


his messengers." Then to Ibn Sayyad, "What 
dost thou see?" He replied, "There conies to me 
a truth-teller and a liar." Muhammad said, "The 
matter is confused to thee." Then he went on, 
"I conceal from thee something" 1 The boy said, 
"It is ad-dukh." Muhammad was thinking of his 
chapter of the Qufan, Ad-dukhdn, "The Smoke," 
and this answer came too close. So he replied, 
"Get away; thou wilt never exceed thy power." 
c Umar asked permission to strike off his head, but 
Muhammad refused and said, "If it is he, then 
thou hast no power over him, and if it is not he, 
there is no good to thee in slaying him." The 
question was whether he was the Jewish Antichrist 
or not, and Muhammad could not make up his 
mind. On another occasion, Muhammad tried to 
catch him unawares in one of his fits. He went 
out to the palm grove where the boy was and hid 
himself behind the palm stems to listen. The boy 
was lying on his side, wrapt in the mantle, out 
of which a murmuring came. But the boy's 
mother caught sight of Muhammad, and warned 
her son, who ceased. Apparently, he was able to 
shake off the fit at once. But Muhammad was 
much displeased; "If she had let him alone, the 
thing would have been cleared up."' 

1 Apparently the formula for testing a soothsayer before 
accepting his advice; cf. pp. 4 and 9. 

» §ahlh of al-Bukh&rl, Vol. VIII, p. 40 {Book oj Adab), edition 
of BQlaq, A. 11. 1315. 


There is humor enough in this picture of one 
prophet trying to investigate another after the 
method of the Society for Psychical Research, but 
for the boy it was not a humorous situation. Mu- 
hammad apparently satisfied himself that he was 
not dangerous. He became a Muslim and was alive 
in the year 63 of the Hijra. But all his life this 
suspicion followed him, and though one of his sons 
handed down traditions which are accepted 1 he 
himself was ostracised. The poet al-Farazdaq took 
refuge once at al-Madlna, and unwittingly entered 
the house of Ibn Sayyad; he found that the people 
would have no dealings with him.' Other tradi- 
tions 3 show him complaining of this, and pointing 
out that he was a Muslim, with children, living 
both in al-Madina and Mecca — none of these things 
being possible in the Antichrist. But others, again, 
show him with a certain malicious sense of his own 
importance, and fond of scaring people. His dis- 
eased personality — without Muhammad's genius — 
is made very distinct. 

To return to Muhammad, it is plain, as I said, that 
he recognized here phenomena similar to his own, 
but was gradually satisfied that no danger lay in 
them, however they were to be explained. 

So, while the general vocabulary as to his revela- 

• Nawawi, p. 789. 

' AghSnl, Vol. XIX, p. 2$. 

1 Mafdblh, Vol. II, p. 140, edition of Cairo, A. H. 1318. 


tions was borrowed from that used in describing how 
their knowledge came to the kdhins, it had to be 
made very clear that the influence upon him was an 
angel or even the Holy Spirit — for him a convertible 
term — of all which the Christians and Jews spoke. 
But, in spite of his utmost endeavors to emphasize 
this distinction, his opponents called him a poet — 
evidently thinking not of the later artistic poet who 
wrote verses in correct meter, of which Muham- 
mad by nature was absolutely incapable, but of the 
ecstatic poet who stood in relations with the Unseen ; 
or they called him possessed of a Jinnl, on the same 
idea; or, which was striking the closest of all, a 
kahin, soothsayer. He was a kahin, but with an 
enormous difference, the difference which separated 
what I have called the soil of prophetism among the 
Hebrews, the mass of nebhPim with their ecstatic 
excitements without ethical content or clear religious 
ideas, from the great reforming and constructive 
figures, from Amos and Hosea, from Isaiah and 

But again I must guard myself: Muhammad 
cannot be compared to these last, on any absolute 
scale. Only as both contrast with their soil will the 
comparison hold. What raised Muhammad from 
it was two ideas: the duty of the care of the poor, 
of almsgiving and helpfulness; and the unity and 
absolute sovereignty of Allah. Of those germina- 
tive conceptions of the relations between God and 


man to which the Hebrew prophets attained, he had 
no idea except in one point. With his hard doctrine 
of the unity of Allah, intermediaries were swept 
away. The whole polydaemonistic scheme with 
a one God somewhere in the background, to which 
the Arabs seem to have attained, vanished. There 
was left no interceder with that one God; no beings 
from whom revelations might come. When an 
angel spoke with him— Gabriel or the Holy Spirit, 
or whatever the term might be — there was no semi- 
divine personality there. On the one hand there 
was Allah; on the other, his creation, including 
angels, Jinn, devils, men. Even such a conception 
of a unity of nature with God as we find among the 
Hebrews in the BenS E16him, the Sons of God, has 
vanished with him. The angels were created of light 
— that is their only distinction. Allah is throned 
alone — the Creator, Ruler, Destroyer — unto him 
there is none like. 

But having swept away at one stroke all lesser 
beings from whom revelations could come, having 
apparently closed the unseen world to man, and 
fixed a gulf that none could pass, with another stroke 
he bridged that gulf and drew man immediately 
into the presence of God. God, himself, the One, 
reveals himself to man through prophets and other- 
wise, and man, in prayer, can come directly to God. 
This is Muhammad's great glory. The individual 
soul and its God are face to face. Yet in the abso- 


luteness of this conception lay its philosophical 
weakness and failure. How can the One know and 
be known by that which is other than itself ? How 
can unlikes ever meet ? The conception of a father- 
hood of God, of a genetic relationship, runs through 
the Hebrew prophets, and breaks down his aloof- 
ness and separateness. The conceptions again, on 
the one hand, of a suffering God, who has borne 
our flesh and knows its sorrows and, on the other 
hand, of a Holy Ghost, the God immanent who 
works in mankind, form the soul of the Christian 
church. But to these Islam can come, only by 
breaking with Muhammad. 

As we shall see abundantly hereafter, the devout 
life within the Muslim church led to a more com- 
plete pantheism than ever did the Christian trinity. 
In the struggle to bring God and his creation to- 
gether, the creation had to become an aspect of the 
creator, and finally to vanish into him. Only in 
this way could the crass dualism be overcome, and 
that monism which is the basis or result of all 
mysticism be reached. There are stray expressions 
which suggest that Muhammad — a devout soul, if 
ever there was one and a mystic in spite of his creed — 
was adrift himself on that sea, and was nearing that 
shore. But his brain, oriental to the core, contra- 
dictoriness never troubled, and Allah could be 
throned apart in unapproachable grandeur and yet 
near to every human heart. His creed remained 


frankly dualistic, and to the clearly thinking mind, 
the ladder between earth and heaven seemed re- 
moved. How the inevitable pressure of religious 
inspiration restored it must be our future subject. 



It is time now to turn to the Muslims themselves, 
and ask what they understand under prophecy; 
what for them a prophet is. In putting an answer 
before you, I choose a statement, not by a theolo- 
gian but by a historian — a historian, it is true, of 
marked philosophical leanings. This is Ibn Khal- 
dun, who was born at Tunis, lived a restless life — 
part statesman, part scholar, part lawyer, — was on 
embassy at one time to Peter the Cruel at Seville, 
and at another to Timur in his camp before Damas- 
cus, and died at Cairo as chief justice in A. d. 1406. 
His great work was a Universal History, which, as a 
history, does not merit much praise. But to it he 
prefixed an introduction, his justly celebrated Mu- 
qaddima, which was unique in its own time and for at 
least three centuries thereafter. For an estimate 
of it as a contribution to philosophical history, or 
rather as the foundation of that science, I refer you 
to Robert Flint's Historical Philosophy in France 
and French Belgium and Switzerland. Professor 
Flint was not an Arabist, but he was all the better 
able to estimate the value of a book that alone would 
suffice to vindicate the scientific weight of the Arabic 
literature. Hereafter I shall translate a good deal 



from it. It gives very fairly the final result of the 
centuries of theological development which preceded 
— a result which abides to this day. Ibn Khaldun 
therein voices the catholic church of Islam. 

You will observe that he is as absolute a super- 
naturalist as Muhammad himself or any primitive 
Semite. Yet he tries to reduce his supernaturalism 
to scheme, if not entirely to rationalize it. The fact 
of those rifts in the shell of nature, through which 
the unseen world touches us, he in no way denies. 
But he tries to explain the method so as to bring it 
into accordance with the process which we see 
going on around us. This leads him, on the one 
hand, to a queer semi-evolutionary doctrine which 
he borrowed from the Aristotelian philosophers, and, 
on the other hand, to a doctrine of the human mind 
which seems halfway between phrenology and the 
more modern and fashionable hypothesis of sublim- 
inal selves. In fact, I think, when you have heard 
what he has to say, you will agree with me that he' 
had some most interesting psychological ideas, and 
that he would probably have been in close sympathy 
with Mr. William James's Varieties of Religious 
Experience. His weak point is on the constructive 
side, and that our modern speculations would have 
strengthened. His different "souls" would pass 
easily into different selves, but it may be that he 
would have had to invert their order. Yet his doc- 
trine of the use of magic mirrors, crystal balls and 


the like appears to be in absolute accord with our 

His section on inspiration and vision he opens 
thus: 1 

Know that God has chosen from mankind certain indi- 
viduals whom he has graced with converse with Himself and 
has given such a constitution that they may know him, and 
has made to be means of access between Him and His crea- 
tures, that they may instruct men as to what is best for them, 
and may exhort them to accept their guidance, and may keep 
them from the Fire, and guide them in the way of salvation. 
In that which God gives to them, consisting of knowledge, 
and exhibits in agreement with what they say, consisting of 
invasions of the order of nature, is also narrative concerning 
things hidden from mankind, to the knowledge of which there 
is no path except from God by their intermediation; and they 
do not know it except through God's instructing them. The 
Prophet has said, "I know only what God has taught me." 
Know further that truthfulness is an essential and necessary 
element in what they tell in that way, for reasons which will 
become plain to you in connection with the explanation of the 
essential nature of prophecy. 

Here, you will see, is a frankly supernatural defini- 
tion and the end of prophecy is to save men from the 
Fire. This is one of the most puzzling paradoxes in 
Islam. As to recognizing, using and enjoying this 
world, Islam is a most practical religion, but on its 
doctrine of salvation it is absolutely and entirely 
other-worldly. Ibn Khaldun then goes on to give 

1 Beyrout edition, p. 91; Bfllaq, p. 77; de Slanc's transla- 
tion, Vol. I, p. 184. 


five signs which characterize the prophetic division 
of the human race : 

I. In the state of inspiration the prophet exhibits uncon- 
sciousness of his surroundings along with a snoring in the 
throat; [the last word is difficult; 1 it is used to describe the 
roaring of the male camel when it blows the faucial bag out 
of its mouth, or the snorting of an angry man, or loud snoring] 
— it is to all appearance as though he were fainting or swoon- 
ing. But there is nothing of the kind; in reality he is only 
immersed in meeting the spiritual messenger. This takes 
place when they apprehend that which is cognate to them but 
entirely inaccessible to the physical senses. Thereafter that 
descends to the physical senses, either through the hearing of 
a humming of speech — then the prophet understands it — or 
there presents itself to him the form of an individual address- 
ing him with that which he has brought from God. Thereafter 
that state clears away from him, and he has retained the 
message. The Prophet, having been asked about inspiration, 
said, "At times it comes to me like the ringing of a bell; that 
is the most grievous upon me; then it drops away from me 
and I have retained what it said. And at times the angel 
presents himself to me as a man and speaks to me; then I 
retain what he says." In the course of that there used to 
come upon him such grievousness and pressure in the throat 
as cannot be expressed. In a tradition stands, "There was 
a great grievousness in the effect of revelation upon him." 
c A 3 isha said, "Inspiration would descend upon him on a day 
of bitter cold; then it would drop away from him; and 
his brow would be running with sweat." God said a "Lo, 
we shall cast upon thee a heavy word." And because the 
descending of inspiration had so extreme an effect the 

1 Cf. Sprenger, Leben Mohammeds, Vol. I, pp. aa8, 270. 
" Qw. lxxiii, 5. 


polytheists used to accuse the prophets of being possessed 
by Jinn. They would say, "He has a familiar 1 of the Jinn." 
But it was only by what they had observed of the outward 
appearance of these states that the case of the Prophet was 
obscured to them. "He has no guide whom God leads 

Because of its importance I have translated this 
very closely. You will observe the acknowledg- 
ment of the practical identity in outward appear- 
ance between a prophet and one possessed by a 
Jinni. From the traditions I could quote many 
other descriptions of Muhammad's appearance 
under inspiration, but they would not serve any 
useful purpose. The individual traditions, with their 
details, are often suspicious, and it is practically 
impossible to weed them out. This holds especially 
of Muhammad's earlier life at Mecca, at the time 
when there cannot be any question of his honesty. 
But that he fell into absolute trance-conditions in 
later life when he was consciously manipulating 
his revelations to suit his purpose, cannot be doubted 
either. It is of these later times that Ibn Khaldun 
gives us here, as it were, a philosophical collective 
photograph. He was probably aided also by similar 
phenomena which he had observed among his own 
contemporaries. The feeling of weight and the 
choking in the throat seem to be characteristic for 
all phenomena of the subconscious life. A more 

• Literally "an apparition or follower." 
» Qur. xiii, 33. 


precise interpretation of these symptoms has not 
yet been reached. Weil, in 1862, tried to prove 
that they pointed to epilepsy as opposed to cata- 
lepsy. More recently Professor Margoliouth, in 
his Life of Muhammad (p. 46), has urged the same 
based on such symptoms as this unconsciousness, 
the sound of a bell, the belief that someone is pres- 
ent, a resultant headache, violent perspiration, and 
others, such as turning of the head to one side, 
foaming at the mouth, reddening or whitening of the 
face, all which are characteristics of epilepsy. But 
as Sprenger (Vol. Ill, p. 65) rightly points out, the 
traditions are too contradictory to afford a sure 
basis. What is certain is the existence of some 
pathological condition in Muhammad, resulting in 
trances, and it is not at all impossible that Sprenger's 
judgment (Vol. I. pp. 207 f.) that it was some form 
of hysteria under which he suffered, may be correct. 
A more detailed examination in the light of the 
recent investigations of nervous diseases through 
hypnotism might reach more sure results. There 
are striking parallels with the descriptions of Mrs. 
Piper's appearance on entering and leaving trance 
which are scattered through the Proceedings of the 
Society for Psychical Research. 

The narratives seem generally to imply that 
Muhammad communicated his "revelations" only 
after he had come out of the trance condition. 
That may have been, but it must be regarded as 


probable also that he spoke in trance as does, for 
example, Mrs. Piper. And one very curious passage 
in the Qur^dn (lxxv, 16; cf. xx, no) would suggest 
that he spoke automatically — like an automatic 
writer — out of trance. It runs, " Do not move thy 
tongue in it [the revelation] to hurry it." This is 
exactly the caution that the conscious automatic 
writer has to observe, namely, that he does not 
consciously move his hand in order to hurry the 
process. That the words apply to Muhammad's 
action in receiving revelation is a very old traditional 
exegesis. 1 

The second characteristic of the prophetic class, 
which Ibn Khaldun gives, need not detain us so 
long. Even before inspiration, prophets have a good 
and pure disposition; they turn away from blame- 
worthy things and uncleanness generally. This is 
what is meant when they are said to be protected 
against sin and error; it is as though they were 
created with a tendency to flee these things, which 
are incongruous with their nature. Stories follow 
how Muhammad, as a child, fell in a swoon when 
his person was exposed ; how God cast on him, as a 
youth, a miraculous sleep so that he should not go to 
a wedding, and have part in unseemly sports; how 
he avoided garlic, etc., for the sake of his angel 

'Tabarl's Tajslr, Vol. XXIX, p. 101; Razi's Majdlih, Vol. 
VIII, p. 283, edition of Cairo, A. H. 1308. 


The third characteristic is that prophets sum- 
mon to religion and devotion, that is prayer and 
the giving of the poor rate and chaste conversation. 
The possession of the above three characteristics 
alone is enough as a proof of prophecy. Ibn Khal- 
dun tells here one of those absurd stories of which 
Islam is so fond, and which seem to have shot up 
as did the apocryphal gospels in early Christianity; 
or they are like our religious novels, with the differ- 
ence that they were and are fully believed. Mu- 
hammad's letter, summoning to Islam, came to 
the emperor Heraclius. So he called into his pres- 
ence those of the tribe of the Prophet whom he 
could find, and among them Abu Sufyan, the great 
enemy of Muhammad, and asked them about him, 
especially what he commanded them. Abu Sufyan 
replied, "Prayer and the poor-rate and charity and 
chastity." Then said Heraclius, "If what thou 
sayest is true, he is verily a prophet, and will rule 
all that is under these two feet of mine." "This 
was enough as a proof for Heraclius," comments 
Ibn Khaldiin; "he had no need of an evidentiary 

The fourth characteristic is that the prophet must 
be a person of distinction among his people. No 
prophet has been sent, says a tradition, save in an 
assured position with his people, and in wealth. This 
is that he may have a party and power to defend him 
against unbelievers, until he delivers the message 


of his Lord, and finish the will of God in perfecting 
his religion and forming a community. This charac- 
teristic is evidently deduced from the career of 
Muhammad himself; it could in no way be derived 
either from the Old or the New Testament. And 
the kahin of heathen Arabia, also, seldom had 
an assured position. But Ibn Khaldun is perfectly 
right. This conception is an absolute element in 
the Muslim idea of the prophet. He is not a voice 
preaching righteousness and proclaiming God, but 
the militant head of a community claiming, as a 
right, absolute sovereignty. 

The fifth characteristic of prophets is the occur- 
rence with them of invasions of the order of nature, 
bearing witness to their truthfulness. These are 
actions whose like ordinary mankind cannot per- 
form; they fall outside of the sphere of a creature's 
power. There is a dispute, however, as to how 
they occur and how they prove the veracity of a 
prophet. The scholastic theologians generally hold 
that they occur by the power of God, not by the 
action of the prophet. Even the heretical Mu c tazil- 
ites, though they say generally that the actions of 
a creature proceed from him himself, say of the 
evidentiary miracle that it is not the action of a 
creature — in this case, the prophet. Further, the 
scholastics hold that the prophet has absolutely no 
part in it ; he only uses it as a weapon, by the per- 
mission of God; that is, before it occurs the prophet 


states it as a proof of his veracity in his claim; then, 
when it has occurred, it takes the place of a clear 
utterance from God that the prophet is truthful; 
its proof, thus, is absolute. So an evidentiary mir- 
acle proves the veracity of a prophet through (i) 
being an invasion of the order of nature and (2) 
being thus controversially used, the use is a part of 
it, or as the scholastics say, an essential quality. 
Further, this controversial use is what distinguishes 
the evidentiary miracle (mu c jiza) of the prophet from 
the miracle worked by a saint (kardma) and from 
magic. In the last two there is no need of proving 
veracity, nor is there any controversial intention, 
except accidentally. If, by chance, it occurs in a 
saint's miracle on the part of the performer of the 
miracle, and has a probative force, it proves saint- 
ship only and not prophecy. Some have denied 
the possibility of miracles by saints, fearing this 
confusion, but Ibn Khaldun thinks the distinc- 
tion clear. The Mu c tazilites, however, reject saints' 
miracles because invasions of the order of nature 
cannot be actions of a creature, since the actions of 
creatures are limited to custom. That the eviden- 
tiary miracle cannot be worked by a liar is proven 
as follows : The Ash c arites, orthodox scholastics, say 
that assertion of veracity and right guidance are both 
essential qualities in an evidentiary miracle. Then 
if it occurs without these, as it would if worked by a 
liar, the proof is ambiguous, the guidance into right 


becomes leading astray, and the assertion of vera- 
city becomes a lie. So the essentials are changed; 
the essential qualities transformed. Its occurrence 
is thus impossible. The Mu c tazilites simply say that 
the occurrence of proof as ambiguity and of right 
guidance as leading astray is abominable and cannot 
have place with God. 

The philosophers, on the other hand, meaning the 
students of Greek philosophy, Aristotelians and 
neo-Platonists, hold that the invasion of the order 
of nature in a miracle is an act of the prophet, al- 
though that invasion is strictly outside of his power. 
They base this on their general position as to essen- 
tial necessity. The occurrence of events, one from 
another, depends on causes and conditions ; all goes 
back at the last to the Necessary, the agent per se, not 
by choice. The soul of the prophet, for them, has 
essential peculiarities, among which are the pro- 
duction of these invasions of the order of nature by 
his own power, and the obedience of the elements to 
him in producing things. The prophet, for them, 
is endowed with control over things whenever he 
turns to them and has reached full age for that 
purpose. This is given to him by God. So the 
invasion of nature on the part of the prophet occurs 
equally, whether it is with controversial intention or 
not, and is a proof of his veracity by proving that he 
has that control over things which is peculiar to the 
prophetic soul. For the philosophers, therefore, the 


distinction by controversial intention between the 
evidentiary miracle and the saint's miracle and magic 
fails. They distinguish the prophet from the ma- 
gician by the quality of his actions. The prophet's 
actions are good; the magician's bad. Saints, on 
the other hand, have a more limited sphere of 
wonders. The prophet ascends to heaven, and 
penetrates dense bodies, and restores the dead to 
life, and speaks with angels, and flies in the air. But 
the saint can only multiply things and tell something 
of the future, and the like. These philosophers, you 
will observe, were evidently working very hard to get 
a scientific statement for the belief of their time. We 
know the same phenomenon. All this, says Ibn 
Khaldun, meaning apparently the entire doctrine of 
the miracles of prophets and saints, has been con- 
firmed by the Sufis, the professed Muslim mystics, 
in the books on their discipline. For him, we will 
find, the mystical experience is the ultimate proof. 
Finally, the greatest and clearest of all evidentiary 
miracles is the Qufan itself. It combines both the 
thing to be proved, that is the inspiration, and the 
proof; therein is its uniqueness, the very self-evident 
soul of inspiration itself. 

These five characteristics, then, are the outward 
signs of a prophet. But what is the nature of the 
prophet ? what this prophetic soul of which we have 
just heard? what his part in the scheme of the 
universe? Here we enter on deep waters, and I 


must ask your very close attention and also your 
indulgence with the strain which I shall throw on 
the English language. Scholastic philosophy can- 
not be made very luminous; and when it must be 
translated from Arabic, its state is twice confounded. 
You will remember, of course, that the universe, 
for Ibn Khaldun, was the Ptolemaic universe, the 
universe of Dante and Milton, consisting of con- 
centric spheres. Also he is ruled by a conception of 
the unity of nature and its processes derived from 
neo-Platonism; all life is in a process of emanation, 
tending to gradual particularization from the uni- 
versal, but possessed always by a longing to return 
to the one, perfect unity. This joins the Aristotelian 
conception of the whole of nature as instinct with a 
vital impulse towards some higher manifestation, and 
of organic life as on an ascending scale of complexity 
with man as the final end. Only Aristotle regarded 
the species as fixed, but Ibn Khaldun seems to have 
accepted the possibility and actuality of a true 
developing from one into another. That he had 
from the neo-Platonic admixture; as also the stretch- 
ing of the process on into the spiritual world. A 
semi-pantheistic attitude is thus reached, which with 
many Muslims became absolute pantheism. With 
him it is only mysticism: 

Know [says Ibn Khaldun,']— God guide aright us and 
1 Beyrout edition, p. 95; Bulaq, p. 80; de Slane's translation, 
Vol. I, p. 196. 


thee! — that we observe this world, with all that is in it of 
created things, to be in a scheme of arrangement and ordi- 
nance, a linking of causes to results, and a joining of things 
to things, and a changing of some existences into others; 
its marvels therein unending; and its limits unbounded. I 
begin, then, with the physical world, perceptible to the 

First, the world of the elements. We can observe how it 
ascends upward by steps, from earth to water, then to air, then 
to fire; each joined to the other, and each fitted to change into 
that which is beyond it, upward and downward, and actually 
changing on certain occasions. The upper of these is always 
finer than that which precedes, until the world of the spheres 
is reached, which is finest of all and is in stages, one joining 
to another upon a scheme of which sense can perceive nothing 
but the motions only. Yet by these motions some have been 
guided to a knowledge of their measures and positions, and to 
what exists beyond them of essences to which these effects 
on them are due. Consider next the world of becoming— 
this changing world of ours — how it begins with minerals; 
then come plants; then animals, after a wondrous scheme 
of progress upward, the last of the region of the minerals 
joining the beginning of the region of the plants, such as grass 
and what has no seed; and the last of the region of the plants, 
such as the palm and the vine joining the beginning of the region 
of animals, such as the snail and shell-fish, both of which have 
the power of touch only. And "joining" in the case of these 
created things means that the last of a region of them is 
curiously fitted to become the beginning of the region of that 
which comes after it. 

The world of animals is wide, and its species are numerous, 
and it extends in the development of this changing world up 
to man, the possessor of reflection and thought. The species 
mount up to him from this world which we perceive with our 


senses, which includes sense and apprehension, but which 
does not extend to thought and reflection actually. That is 
the beginning of a region which extends from man onward, 
and here ends what we can directly observe. 

Then we find in the worlds, as they vary, differing effects; 
in the world of sense, effects from the movements of the 
spheres and from the elements; in the world of change in 
which we are, effects from the movement of growth and appre- 
hension; all testify that there is a producer of effects separate 
from bodies. It is spiritual and is in contact with the things 
of this world because this world and these things in it are in 
contact throughout. It is, therefore, the soul which appre- 
hends and sets in motion, and above it, without question, there 
must be another being which gives it its powers of appre- 
hending and setting in motion, and is in contact with it also, 
and whose essence is pure apprehension and absolute ration- 
ality. It is the world of angels. 

So there must needs belong to the soul a fitness to be 
stripped of the nature of mankind and to put on the angelic 
nature, so as to become actually of the genus of angels, on an 
occasion, for a moment. But that can happen only after the 
soul's spiritual essence is actually perfected, as we shall men- 
tion hereafter. 

And it has contacts with the regions beyond it, like the 
other ordered existences, as we have said above. In these 
contacts there are two directions, upward and downward. 
The soul joins with the body downward and acquires through 
it sensuous apprehensions which fit it for attaining to actual 
operation of the reason. Upward it joins the region of the 
angels and through that gains apprehension of divine knowl- 
edge and of the Unseen. For the world of events [this world 
in which things happen] exists in the intellectual operations of 
angels apart from time. All this, according to what we have 
said above, proceeds from the ordered arrangement which we 


find in all existence consisting of the contact of its essences 
and powers, one with another. 

Next, this human soul' cannot be seen, but its effects are 
plain in the body, as though the body and all its parts, joined 
and separate, were instruments for the soul and its powers 
which are either active like grasping with the hand and walk- 
ing with the foot and speaking with the tongue, and like the 
total motion in the body through alternate efforts; or they 
are apprehensive. 

Then, just as the powers of apprehension are arranged and 
ascend up to their highest and to the highest of the thinking 
power which is called the logical soul, so the external senses 
with their instruments of hearing, seeing, etc., ascend to 
the internal senses. The first of these is the "general sense" 
[the Aristotelian "common sense"] 2 the power which appre- 
hends sensuous percepts, seen, heard, touched, etc., all in a 
single state; thereby the general sense is distinguished from 
the external senses, because the percepts do not press upon 
them all at once. Then the "general sense" passes it along 
to the imagination. It is a power which presents the perceived 
thing in the soul as stripped of external matter. The instru- 
ment of these two powers in their rule is the first hollow of the 
brain, the anterior portion to the first, and the posterior 
portion to the second. Then the imagination ascends to 
the power of forming opinions and to the memory. The 
power of forming opinions is for the apprehension of ideas 
connected with individualities, like the enmity of Zayd and 
the friendship of c Amr, the love of a father and the voracity 

1 On the psychological scheme which follows compare Ibn 
Sln&'s little treatise edited, with German translation, by Landauer 
in ZDMG., Vol. XXIX, and translated into English by E. A. 
Van Dyck, A Compendium on the Soul, Verona, 1906. 

• Zeller, Aristotle and the Earlier Peripatetics, Vol. II, pp. 68 S., 
of the English translation. See especially note 3, p. 68. 


of the wolf. The memory is for the storing up of all the 
apprehended and imagined things and is like a treasury of 
them, preserving them for time of need. The instrument of 
these two powers in their rule is the posterior hollow of the 
brain; the first of it to the first, and the latter to the other. 

Then they all ascend to the intellectual power whose instru- 
ment is the middle hollow of the brain. It is the power by 
which takes place the movement of meditation and inclining 
toward intellectual processes. So the soul is moved thereby 
constantly on account of the longing involved in it toward 
deliverance from the surveillance of the power which holds 
it back and from the equipment which belongs to human 
nature. So, in its rational operation, the soul comes out into 
action, making itself like to the Heavenly Spiritual Host* 
and it enters the lowest of the ranks of the Spiritualities when 
it apprehends without bodily instruments. Toward that it is 
constantly moving and heading. Then, sometimes, it passes 
over completely from human nature and its form of spiritu- 
ality to the angelic nature of the upper region, not by any 
acquiring of a new thing, but by the constitution and primitive 
creation wherein God has made it. 

And human souls are of three kinds. First, a kind too 
weak by nature to attain this degree. These souls are limited 
to motion in the lower direction, toward sensuous and imagin- 
ary apprehensions, and to the combining of ideas from the 
memory and to the power which forms opinions according 
to limited rules and specific arrangement. They acquire 
hereby the sciences, conceptual and affirmative, which belong 
to the intellect when in the body, and all of which belong 
to the imagination and are of limited range, since, on the side 
of its beginning, the soul extends to elements only and does not 
pass beyond them. If it is corrupt, then all beyond these is 
barred to it. This, for the most part, is the limit of human 

» Qur. xxxvii, 8. 


apprehension in the body; to it the apprehensions of the 
learned attain and in it their feet are firm. 

Souls of the second kind set out through that intellectual 
motion toward the spiritual reason and toward the kind of 
apprehension which, on account of the equipment therefor 
which has been made in them, has no need of bodily instru- 
ments. The range of their apprehension is wider than the 
elements which are the range of the primary apprehension 
belonging to humanity, and they go on freely to internal 
observations. These are a kind of ecstasy as a whole; 
they have a limit at their beginning but not at their end. 
They are the apprehensions of the learned of the saints, the 
people of the religious sciences and of divine knowledge; they 
are attained after death by the saved, in the state between 
death and the resurrection. 

The third kind are created with the power of passing over 
from humanity, its flesh and its spirit, to the angels of the 
upper region, so that, for a moment, they become angels 
actually, and in that moment witness the Heavenly Host 
in their region, and hear spiritual speech and the divine 
allocution. These are prophets; God has created for them 
the power of their momentarily passing over from humanity. 
And this is the state of inspiration; a constitution on which 
God has constituted them and a nature in which He has 
formed them. Through the traits of character which have 
been combined in them, consisting of the striving and up- 
rightness by which they look toward God, and through the 
desire which is fixed in their natures for the service of God, 
unveiled in that looking and making easy its path, he has 
removed them from the hindrances and entanglements of the 
body so long as they remain mixed with these through their 
human nature. So, whenever they wish, they set out for that 
region by means of that power of transition and that constitution 
in which they are constituted, not by any acquisition or art. 


Then, when they set out and pass over from their humanity, 
and encounter in that Heavenly Host what they encounter, 
they turn to the channels of physical apprehension with that 
as a revelation to be sent down by means of these channels, 
for the sake of transmitting it to creatures. So, at one time, 
one of them hears a humming sound, as though it were a 
suggestion of speech, from which he may take the sense 
which has been brought to him, and the humming sound 
does not cease until he has retained it and understood it. 
And, at another time, the angel who brings the revelation to 
him presents himself as a man, and talks to him, and he 
retains what the angel says. The encountering of the angel, 
and the return to the channels of physical apprehension, and 
his understanding what is brought to him, all of that is as 
though it were in a single flash, or less than a glance of the eye. 
It does not happen in time, but it happens, all of it, together. 
So it appears as though it were swift, and therefore it is 
called inspiration (wahy) because wahy, in Arabic, means 

Know, further, that the first state — the state of hearing a 
humming — is the stage of the prophets who are not apostles 
sent with books, as the distinction is made, and the second — 
the state when an angel appears like a man talking — is the 
stage of the prophets sent with books, and on that account is 
more perfect than the first. This is the meaning of the tra- 
dition in which the prophet explained inspiration when he 
was asked about it. He said, "At times it comes to me 
like the ringing of a bell, and that is the most grievous upon 
me. Then it falls away from me and I have retained what it 
said. And at times the angel presents himself to me as a 
man and speaks to me; then I retain what he says." The 
first of these was more grievous, only because it was the 
initial step in passing from potentiality to actuality in reaching 

1 But sec p. 252 below. 


the spiritual world. So he was under somewhat of a strain. 
Therefore when he turned, in this state, to the channels of 
physical apprehension, these limited themselves down to 
hearing; every other way would have been too hard. But 
when the inspiration was repeated, and the encountering 
of the angel occurred often, reaching the spiritual world 
became easy. So when he turned to the channels of physical 
apprehension he reached them as a whole, and, especially, the 
clearest of them, which is apprehension by sight. 

Know, too, that in the state of apprehension as a whole, 
is a general difficulty and grievousness, which the Qur>dn 
has pointed out. God has said, "Lo we shall cast upon thee 
a heavy word." And c A'isha said, "To that which he had 
to endure from the revelation belonged a great grievousness." 
And she said also, "Inspiration would descend upon him 
on a day of bitter cold; then it would drop away from him; 
and his brow would be running with sweat." On that 
account there used to befall him when in that state such 
unconsciousness, roaring and choking in the throat as is well 
known. The cause of that was that inspiration, as we have 
explained, is a separation from the physical nature for the sake 
of angelic apprehensions, and an encountering of the speech 
of the soul. So there arises a grievousness from the separa- 
tion of the self from the self, and its transition from its 
region to that other region. This is the meaning of the chok- 
ing which was spoken of as occurring at the beginning of 
revelation, when he [Muhammad] said, "Then he choked 
me until pain reached its limit with me; thereupon he let me 
go, and said, 'Read!' I said, 'I cannot read;' and so a 
second and a third time, as stands in the tradition." 

But practice sometimes brings by degrees — first one thing 
and then another thing — to a measure of ease, in comparison at 
least with what came earlier. On that account the sections of 
the Qur'in, both chapters and verses, revealed when he was in 


Mecca, were shorter than when he was in al-Madina. Con- 
sider what is handed down as to the revealing of chapter ix, 
dealing with the raid of Tabuk, how the whole or the greater 
part of it was revealed while he was traveling upon his camel. 
At Mecca, on the other hand, there would be revealed to him 
only a part of a chapter, some very short one, at one time, 
and the rest would be revealed at another time. Similarly, 
the last of that which was revealed in al-Madina was the 
"Verse of the Religion"* and its length is well known, while 
at Mecca there used to be revealed very short verses. In that 
there is a suggestion by which you may distinguish between 
Meccan and Madinan chapters and verses. 

This, then, for Ibn Khaldun is the sum of the 
nature of prophecy. You will notice how careful 
he is to keep the conception of the unseen world 
vague. He felt, undoubtedly, our own shrinking 
from an elaborately concrete heaven of the Miltonic 
and Dantean type. Beyond the veil there is some- 
thing from which ideas come in flashes to those whose 
natures are such that they can perceive them. 
These elements of spiritual intuition are translated 
into terms of the senses — sight, hearing and the like 
— by the perceiver, because that is the only way in 
which he can make intelligible what he has reached. 
They do not come to the prophet by the senses, but 
he unconsciously renders them in sensuous terms, 
and thus they pass out to the world. Ibn Khaldun 
was compelled by the theology of the Qufan to 
speak of angels, but it is obvious that he much pre- 

1 Qur. v, 4. 


fers the non-concrete terms, and would rather speak 
of angelic influences. The case is similar in regard 
to the Jinn, in whom all orthodox Islam believes, 
and who are frequently mentioned in the Qufian. 
In no part of his thesaurus does he deal with them 
at length, and his references by the way are always 
under the spur of necessity. There is a curious 
passage, however, found only in certain MSS in 
which he assigns the verses in the Qufan which 
make mention of revelation, angels, the Holy Spirit, 
and the Jinn to the technical class of "obscure 
verses" (mutashabihat) , those as to whose meaning 
we have no certain knowledge. In this he stands 
alone among presumed orthodox Muslims; with 
others there is no trace of uncertainty as to the nature 
of the Jinn, as we shall see hereafter. 

He passes next to an analysis of the nature of 
soothsaying: 1 

That, also, [he says] belongs to the characteristics of the 
human soul. In all that has preceded we have seen that the 
human soul has an equipment for passing over from its human- 
ity to the spiritual nature which is above it. A flash comes to 
mankind of the class of the prophets through the nature of 
their constitution, which plainly comes to them not through any 
acquisition, nor by seeking the aid of any of the channels of 
apprehension, nor through conceptions, nor through bodily 
actions in speech or movement, nor through anything at all. It 
is simply a transition from the human to the angelic nature 

1 Beyrout edition, p. 99; Dulaq, p. 84; de Slane's translation, 
Vol. I, p. 206. 


through innate constitution, in a flash, in less than a glance 
of the eye. Since that is so, and since that preparedness 
exists in human nature in general, logical subdivision follows. 
There must be another class of human beings who fall short 
of the first class to an extent which means absolute contra- 
riety; because the lack of seeking aid for that spiritual appre- 
hension is the contrary of seeking aid for it, and how far 
apart these are ! Logical division, then, gives this other class 
of human beings, having such a constitution that their reason- 
ing power can be set in motion intellectually through will 
aroused by desire, but who through weakness of nature, fall 
short. They, therefore, cling for aid to particular things, 
perceived by the senses or imagined, such as transparent 
bodies and bones of animals and rhymes and words and birds 
and beasts as these present themselves. So they wait for that 
sense-perception or imagination, seeking aid of it to bring 
about that transition to spiritual perception which is their 
object; it is to them like a strengthener, and this force which 
is in these things as a beginning for that spiritual apprehension 
is the essence of soothsaying. Yet because these souls have 
a defective constitution and fall short of completeness, their 
apprehension is rather in particulars than in universals. On 
that account, the aiding imagination in them is so strong, 
because it is the instrument of particulars. It has free 
passage, then, in the particulars, whether waking or sleeping, 
and is present with these as a strong helper, presenting them 
and being to them like a mirror in which they are constantly 

But the soothsayer cannot attain completely to the appre- 
hension of rational things because his inspiration is Satanic. 
The loftiest of the slates of inspiration of which this class 
of men is capable is attained by seeking aid from rhymed 
prose and balanced speech, that the soothsayer may be 
diverted by that from the senses and strengthened in some 


degree for his limited attaining of the spiritual. So, on 
account of that mental agitation and the external things 
which strengthen it, there comes into his mind something 
which his mind then conveys to his tongue. And he some- 
times speaks truth, and agrees with the fact, and sometimes 
lies, because he fills out what is lacking in himself with some- 
thing external to his perceiving self and separate from it and 
unsuitable. So truth and falsehood encounter him together, 
and he is undecided as to the case, and often takes refuge in 
opinion and conjecture, out of desire to attain success in his 
apprehension, as he thinks, and equivocating to those who 
help him. 1 

The users of this rhymed prose are those who are peculiarly 
designated by the name of kahins, because they are the best 
of all this kind. The Prophet has said, in speaking of such 
as they, "This belongs to the rhymed prose of the kahins." 
He thus made rhymed prose theirs peculiarly. Also, he asked 
Ibn Sayyad, 2 investigating his state, "How does this thing 
come to thee?" Ibn Sayyad said, "It comes to me in truth 
and in falsehood." The Prophet said, "The affair is mixed for 
thee," meaning that the peculiarity of prophecy is truth, and 
lying never at all befalls it. This is because prophecy is a 
joining of the self of the prophet with the Heavenly Host, 
without any helper and without seeking aid in an external 
thing, but the possessor of soothsaying, since he is driven 
to invoke the aid of external perceptions, these enter into his 
apprehension and it is confused thereby, and lying comes to 
him on that side. Thus his apprehension cannot be prophecy. 
We said that the best of the degrees of soothsaying was 
in the state of using rhymed prose. This is only because 

1 An exact description of the impression produced by "trance- 
mediums" of whose honesty, in their normal state, no doubt seems 
possible; such, for example, as Mrs. Piper. 

1 See further, p. 66 below. 


the essential nature of rhymed prose is lighter than all the 
other things seen and heard, used to produce that effect, and 
this essential lightness shows how close is the attainment and 
the apprehension of the spiritual things, and, therefore, how 
comparatively slight is the weakness in that case. 

Some assert that this soothsaying has been cut off since the 
time of prophecy, through the pelting of devils (shaytdns) 
with shooting-stars, which took place before the mission of 
Muhammad; and that that pelting was to keep them away 
from knowledge of what was said in the heavens as stands 
in the Qur>an. x The soothsayers informed themselves about 
that only by means of the devils. So soothsaying, from that 
day, was nullified. But that, as a proof, is not valid. The 
knowledge of the soothsayers, just as it came from the devils, 
came also from themselves, as we have explained. Also, the 
verse in the Quran shows only that the devils were hindered 
from one kind of the things said in the heavens; that is, what 
was connected with the mission of Muhammad; and they 
were not hindered from anything else; also, it was only before 
the sending of the Prophet that this cutting-off took place, and 
perhaps they returned thereafter to what they had been doing. 
This is the plain meaning, because all these sources of knowl- 
edge were obscured in the time of the Prophet's life, just as 
the stars and lamps are obscured in the presence of the sun; 
because prophecy is the mighty light before which every other 
light is dim or passes away. 

Some of the philosophers have asserted that soothsaying 
existed only before the coming of the Prophet, and then was 
cut off, and that thus it happened with every prophet, be- 
cause, they said, the existence of a prophet involves a certain 
situation of the spheres which requires the appearance of a 
prophet. If then, that situation of the spheres be complete 
it requires the appearance of a prophet in his complete- 

' Qur. xv, 18. 


ness. But if it falls short from completeness, it requires the 
existence of a nature of that same kind, only incomplete. 
But that is the essential nature of a soothsayer, as we have 
explained. So before that perfect situation of the spheres is 
completed, the imperfect situation occurs and requires the 
existence of the soothsayer, either one or more. Then, 
whenever the situation of the spheres is complete, the existence 
of the prophet in his perfection is complete, and the travail- 
ings 1 which indicated such a nature as that are accomplished, 
for nothing of them is felt afterwards. All this is based upon 
the idea that an incomplete spheral relation requires part of 
what would be its effect if complete; but that is not admitted. 
Perhaps, rather, the spheral relation requires such a thing only 
when its scheme is entire, and if any of its parts be lacking, it 
does not require anything; not that it requires that effect 
imperfectly, as they say. 

Further, these soothsayers, when they are contemporary 
with a prophet, know his truth, worthiness, and the evidence 
of his miracles, since they have some of the ecstatic nature of 
the prophet, just as every man has in sleep. Only, the 
rational nature of that relationship to the unseen world 
exists in the soothsayer more strongly than in the sleeper. 
The only thing that keeps them back from admitting all that, 
and causes them to fall into denial, is the influence of their 
desire that this relationship may be prophecy on their part. 
So they begin to oppose, just as did Umayya ibn Abl-s-§alt; 
for he desired that he might be a prophet. So, too, it hap- 
pened to Ibn Sayyad and to Musaylima and others. Then, 
when the Faith conquered and those hopes were cut off, they 
believed with the best kind of belief, as happened to Tulayha 
al-Asadt and Qarib ibn al-Aswad; both of these, in the 
Muslim conquests, gave evident signs of belief. 

1 Cf. Romans 8:22; but the Bulaq text and de Slane's trans- 
lation read, "the situations of the spheres." 


This, then, is Ibn Khaldun's doctrine of the 
kahins and prophets. Their nature, broadly, is the 
same. Only, the kahin required certain mechanical 
inducements to distract the attention of his ordinary 
self, and give freedom to his subliminal self. If we 
make allowance for the psychological inheritance of 
Ibn Khaldun from Aristotle, through the Muslim 
scholastics, we shall be compelled to admit the close 
agreement of his theories with the modern doctrine 
of the working of the different selves. But you will 
observe, also, that one point of contact between the 
kahins and Muhammad is not taken up by Ibn 
Khaldun. He states the use of saj c , rhymed prose, 
as the "lightest" of the means used by the kahins 
to produce the ecstatic state, apparently meaning 
by that that it was the simplest, the least mechanical 
of those devices; but he gives no hint that the whole 
of the Qur^an is composed in precisely the same 
rhymed prose, and that in form, as well as spirit, 
Muhammad belonged to the company of the kahins. 
This, in him, is a curious bit of conservative inheri- 
tance. Earlier theologians had been exceedingly 
careful to obscure the likeness between Muhammad 
and the kahins, and had, in consequence, entered 
into elaborate proofs that the Qufan was not written 
in saj c , and that to apply the technical terms of saj c 
to it was simple unbelief. Ibn Khaldun sees very 
clearly the closeness of the resemblance between 
Muhammad and the kahins, but he has not reached 


the point that the Qufan, the Uncreated Word of 
God, is written according to their artistic forms. 
Another point, which we could hardly expect Ibn 
Khaldun to notice, is the question whether Muham- 
mad did not, after all, have means of bringing on 
the ecstatic condition, somewhat similar to those of 
the kahins. The records are so scanty that we can 
only frame hypotheses. Hypnotic parallels would 
indicate that he may have suggested to himself 
the state by this very use of rhymed prose. He 
seems to have disliked the use of it by others. It is 
also possible that while in the hypnotic condition — 
if it was hypnosis — he may have put himself under 
auto-suggestion of its return at a certain time. If 
we could trust in the slightest the stories of his 
Meccan period, this might explain the great break 
in his revelations when he feared that he had been 
deceived and deserted. The case may have been, 
simply, that he had not caught the knack of sug- 
gesting to himself a return. His doubts, too, would 
give him a suggestion of the opposite kind. It is 
peculiarly unfortunate that the fullest descriptions 
of his state under inspiration belong to his latest 
period, and cannot be free from the suspicion that 
he was acting up to his accepted r61e. Still, how- 
ever it may have been with the revelations which 
in many cases were too clearly manufactured or ma- 
nipulated by himself, the ecstatic or hypnotic con- 
ditions in which he professed to receive them may 


have remained perfectly genuine. When he had 
come out of the state which he had learned so easily 
to assume he could give anything as the revelation 
received therein. And it is always possible that what 
he vehemently desired may have seemed to come 
to him in that state. The self-deceptions of oriental 
ecstatics and mystics most be accepted as certain, 
though they are among the most puzzling problems 
of the history of religions. There will be much more 
of this hereafter. 



Ibn Khaldun now goes on to the doctrine of inter- 
course with the Unseen through vision or dreaming. 
This had been fully admitted by Muhammad, accord- 
ing to tradition, and he was here on more universally 
accepted ground than in his account of the kahins. 
He develops his theory as follows :' 

The essential nature of Vision is that the rational soul 
through its spiritual essence gains for a moment information 
as to the forms of events. Inasmuch as the soul is spiritual, 
the forms of events exist in it actually, as is the case with all 
spiritual essences, and it becomes spiritual through being 
stripped of all material substance and of the channels of 
bodily apprehension. This happens to the rational soul 
from time to time, for a moment, because of sleep, as we shall 
mention. So it acquires thereby knowledge of the future 
events for which it looks, and returns with that knowledge 
to its channels of apprehension. Then, if that acquisition 
is weak and lacking in clearness, through the use of metaphor 
and imagery in the imagination in order to state it, it has 
need of interpretation on account of these metaphors. And 
sometimes the acquisition is strong and can do without 
metaphors; then it has no need of interpretation to clarify 
it from the imagery of the imagination. 

The cause of the occurrence of this flash of perception in 
the soul is that the soul is potentially a spiritual essence, seeking 

1 Beyrout edition, p. 102; Bulaq, p. 86; de Slane's translation, 
Vol. I, p. an. 



to fulfil itself through the body and the bodily channels of 
apprehension, until its essence may become pure rationality, 
and it may become perfect actually, and so be a spiritual 
essence apprehending without any bodily instruments. So 
its class, as to the spiritualities, is under the class of the 
angels, the People of the Upper Region, who need not seek 
to fulfil their essential nature through any channels of appre- 
hension, bodily or otherwise. The equipment which leads 
to this perception belongs to the human soul, so long as it is in 
the body. There is a special kind of it which belongs to 
saints; and a kind that is general, belonging to mankind as 
a whole. The last is the basis of Vision. 

As to that which belongs to the prophets, it is a capability 
of passing over from the human nature to the pure angelic 
nature, which is the loftiest of the spiritual things. This 
capability shows itself in them repeatedly on the occasions 
of inspiration. And the state of inspiration, when it enters 
the domain of the bodily channels of apprehension, and there 
occurs in these what occurs of apprehension, is most plainly 
like to the state of sleep, although the state of sleep is lower 
than it by far. On account of this likeness, Muhammad 
used the expression about vision that it was one of the six 
and forty parts of prophecy. 

Ibn Khaldun goes on to explain how some derived 
this exact figure from a comparison of the total num- 
ber of the years of Muhammad's prophetic office, 
twenty-three in all, and that first half-year in which 
his inspiration came to him in vision only. In his 
case, dreaming had been one forty-sixth of the 
whole. To this, however, Ibn Khaldun demurs. 
Other forms of the tradition give other numbers, 
one even seventy. He evidently had our own objec- 


tion to any such exact reckoning of a spiritual rela- 
tion, but his stated objection is that Muhammad's 
twenty-three years held of him only and, therefore, 
could not be a basis for a general law. What is 
meant is that dreaming and prophetic inspiration 
are essentially the same, with a very wide distance 
between them. 

When this is plain to thee, thou wilt know [he goes on] 
that the idea of proportion is the relationship of the primary 
capability, embracing all mankind, to the relative capability 
peculiar to the class of prophets, belonging to their constitu- 
tion, since it is the less common capability. And, although 
this capability is general to all mankind, yet along with it are 
many hindrances and restraints preventing the attainment 
of it actually. Among the strongest of these are the external 
senses. But God constituted mankind with the quality that 
the veil of the senses might be raised in their natural sleep, 
and so the soul encounters, at this raising, knowledge of that 
for which it looks — in the World of Reality (<alam al-haqq) — 
and apprehends, from time to time, a flash in which is attain- 
ment of the thing sought. On account of that, the Prophet 
called these moments of attainment "the Comforters" (mu- 
bashshirat, "Givers of good tidings.") He said, "There 
remains of prophecy nothing but the 'Comforters.' " They 
said, "What are the 'Comforters,' O Apostle of God ?" He 
said, "Sound Vision, which the sound man sees, or which is 
shown to him." 

The cause of this lifting of the veil in sleep I will now 
describe to thee. The apprehensions and the actions of the 
rational soul are only by means of the physical, animal spirit. 
It is a fine vapor, whose seat is in the right hollow of the 
htart, as is laid down in the anatomical books of Galen and 
others, and it is sent forth along with the blood, in the arteries 


and veins, and gives sensation and motion and all the bodily 
actions. Its fine part ascends to the brain; then the brain 
is turned from its coldness, and the actions of the powers 
which are in its chambers are accomplished. So the rational 
soul apprehends and reasons only through this vapory 
spirit, and is joined to it only on account of the law of pro- 
duction which requires that the fine shall not make an im- 
pression on the coarse. Since, then, this animal spirit is the 
finest among the bodily substances, it becomes a locus for any 
workings of any essence different from itself in corporeality; 
in this case, the rational soul. So the workings of the rational 
soul are carried out in the body by means of the animal spirit 

We have already said that apprehension by the rational 
soul is of two kinds — an apprehension by means of what is 
external, namely the five senses, and an apprehension by 
means of what is internal, namely the powers of the brain, 
and that all this tends to hinder the rational soul from appre- 
hending the spiritual essences above it; yet to apprehend 
these it is equipped by its constitution. And since the external 
senses are physical, they are exposed to sleep and indolence 
through weariness, and the soul faints by multitude of business. 
So God has created in it a search for rest in order that its 
power of apprehending may be perfectly renewed. That 
takes place only by the withdrawal of the animal spirit from 
all its external senses and its return to the internal sense. 
Cold in the night, which causes the body to faint, helps this. 
The natural heat seeks the recesses of the body, going from 
exterior to interior and accompanying its vehicle, the animal 
spirit. On account of this, sleep comes for the most part to 
mankind in the night. 

So, when the spirit withdraws from the external senses and 
returns to the internal powers, and the hindrances and 
restraints are lightened from the soul and it returns to tfoe 
forms which are stored in the memory, there present them- 


selves from the memory, by combination and solution, imagi- 
nary forms mostly customary, because these forms are taken 
usually from apprehensions which are frequent. Then the 
"general sense," which is the union of the external senses, 
brings them down and apprehends them according to the 
different manners of the five external senses. 

Often, even, the soul turns aside for a moment to its spirit- 
ual essence, in spite of the resistance of the internal power 
and perceives by means of its spiritual perception, because it 
is so created, and acquires some of the forms of things [the 
ideas], which then become joined with its essence. There- 
after, the imagination takes these forms, thus perceived, and 
presents them either as they essentially are, or by metaphor 
in habitual molds. The metaphors, in such cases, are what 
require interpretation. 

On the other hand, the soul's manipulating, by combina- 
tion and solution, the forms given by the memory before it 
has apprehended anything directly, produces the "bundles 
of dreams" of the Qur'an.' Muhammad said, "Vision is 
three: vision from God, vision from the angels, and vision 
from the devil." This division corresponds with what we 
have mentioned; the clear is from God; the metaphorical, 
which calls for interpretation, is from the angels; and the 
"bundles of dreams" are from the devil, because they are all 
vain and the devil is the source of the vain. 

This is the essence of vision and of what causes it and of 
the sleep which accompanies it. It is the peculiar property 
of the human soul and exists among men in general; no one 
is free from it. Every one of human kind has seen in his 
sleep what has occurred to him in his waking hours, times 
nore than once. And there has resulted to him the certainty 
hat in sleep the soul apprehends the unseen world. Then, 
since that takes place in the world of sleep, it must needs be 

' Qur. xii, 44; xxi, 5. 


possible in other states. For the apprehending essence is 
one, and its properties are general to every state. 

The most of this which occurs to mankind is apart from their 
intention and outside of their control. The soul is only look- 
ing for something; then the dream comes to it in that moment 
in sleep; it is not that the soul wills the vision, and so sees it. 
In the books of those who have written about ascetic and 
mystical exercises, certain names are given. If they are 
pronounced at the time of going to sleep, a vision of what is 
looked for will come from them. These are called al-halumlya 
[apparently derived from the Hebrew hildm, "dream"]. 
The author of a book of the kind has mentioned one of these, 
which he calls "the haluma of the perfect nature." It is, that 
at time of sleep, after the completion of religious exercises and 
with complete intention of mind, these foreign words should 
be pronounced [here follow certain unintelligible combina- 
tions of letters, which are unpronounceable as the vowels 
are not given. They are probably of Hebrew or Syriac 
origin], and that the seeker should bear in mind his need; 
for he will see in slumber the unveiling of that concerning 
which he asks. It is related that a certain man did that 
after a preparation of some nights as to his food and religious 
exercises. Then a form appeared to him saying, "I am thy 
perfect nature." Then the man asked his question and was 
told what he had been looking for. To me, myself, have 
come, through these names, strange appearances, and I have 
learned by them details of my circumstances into which I 
was looking. 

But that does not prove that seeking a dream produces it. 
Only, that these names produce a preparation in the soul for 
the occurrence of a vision. So the more prepared the soul 
is, the nearer it is to that for which it is prepared. It is for 
the individual to make what preparation he pleases, but that 
will not assure him the bringing about of that for which he is 


prepared. Control of preparation is not control of the thing 

Again you will observe how modern Ibn Khaldun's 
position is. It is so modern that I have hesitated 
as to using him as a representative of Islam and its 
attitudes. But exactly because he is so modern, his 
evidence is all the more overwhelming. In this 
case, for example, he has no shadow of doubt as to 
the reality of true dreams. His classification of 
dreams, in general, is that of the whole Muslim 
world. But he feels the necessity of rationalizing it 
for himself. There his psychology — a physiological 
psychology too — comes in. It is an innate quality of 
the soul which gives this power; a primary, unex- 
plainable thing which must be taken for granted. 
Spells and exercises can only prepare the soul for 
the appearance of this power ; they do not force the 
power out. Exactly so the hypnotic condition is 
induced, not caused, by mechanical means. One 
automatic writer, for example, begins invariably by 
writing the words, "Rome was not built in a day." 
But the sentence is never completed; the suggestion 
is enough. With another the first words written arc, 
"Let me name your name," or part of that sentence. 
Ibn Khaldun would recognize here at once thecounter- 
part of his barbarous gibberish for use at bedtime. 
It goes to put the rational soul in the attitude which 
enables it to free itself from the trammels of the senses 
and to exercise its own power of apprehension. 


This becomes still clearer in the special section 1 
which he has devoted to the science, or rather art, 
of the interpretation of dreams. People have always 
dreamt dreams, he says, and there have always been 
interpreters of dreams. But the Muslim oneiro- 
critic science and art are peculiar to Islam and are 
not derived from any preceding system. This 
opinion is probably due to Ibn Khaldun's close join- 
ing of dreaming and prophecy; the interpretation 
of dreams must be semi-sacred and due entirely to 
Muslims. On general principles, however, we may 
be tolerably certain that their books are based on 
those of the Greek oneirocritic writers. And, as a 
matter of fact, we find in the Fihrist, a catalogue 
raisonne" of Arabic literature of about iooo a. d. 
in the section (p. 316) on the interpretation of 
dreams, mention of translations of the works of 
Artemidorus and Porphyry, the neo-Platonist. J The 
Prophet, he goes on, and his Companions all inter- 
preted dreams. After morning prayer, for example, 
Muhammad used to ask whether anyone had had a 
dream. Dreams, suitably interpreted, kept up the 
hearts of his followers. And the amount of interpre- 
tation necessary would vary with the character of the 
dream. The rational soul, by its nature, has an 
absolute power of perception in the spiritual world. 

■ Beyrout edition, p. 475; Bul&q, p. 396; de Slane's transla- 
tion, Vol. Ill, p. 114. 

1 On Muslim dream-books see an article by N. Bland in the 
Journal 0} the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. XVI, p. 153. 


This it can exercise in the sleep of the body and its 
senses. But it is only ideas which it gets in that 
way. So it brings them back to the body with its 
apparatus of the internal senses. Then the imagina- 
tion takes them and decks them out in such images 
from the stores of the memory as are suited to repre- 
sent them. Thus in sensuous form they are brought 
to the "common-sense" of Aristotle and so perceived 
by the sleeper. 

On the other hand, if the imagination brings 
images from the memory, uninformed with ideas 
from the rational soul, the sleeper sees dreams which 
have no meaning. Sometimes these are called 
Satanic dreams, as being stirred up by Satan with 
intention to mislead. 

The problem, then, of the interpreter is to work 
back to the idea perceived by the rational soul in 
its own spiritual world, through the images in which 
the imagination has expressed it. This problem is 
sometimes very simple, as the idea may be clothed 
in forms so immediate to it that there can be no 
question of the meaning. Sometimes it is more diffi- 
cult, when the clothing is in metaphors: a snake, 
for example, stands for enmity, or a sea for a sultan. 
The sensuous clothing will always be derived from 
the range of experience of the dreamer ; he can never 
see a thing in his sleep that he has not seen awake, 
though new ideas may be conveyed to him under 
the old forms. So the interpretation will depend 


upon a knowledge of the range of experience of the 
dreamer; with different people the same thing may 
mean different ideas. 

Further, true dreams have marks which attest their 
verity. One is that the sleeper at once awakes, hast- 
ening, as it were, under the shock, to re-enter the 
domain of sense. Another is that the impression 
of the true dream does not fade but imprints itself 
with all its details on the memory and cannot be for- 
gotten. The reason is that true dreams are flashes 
of perception by the rational soul, are not imparted 
in time, have nothing to do with the operations of 
the brain, and, therefore, are not subject to the acci- 
dents of time or memory. In this, too, there is kin- 
ship between true dreams and prophecy. 

But now, leaving Ibn Khaldun for a time, I must, 
by an accumulation of examples, bring home to you 
how absolute is the Muslim trust in this minor form 
of revelation. It is a part of the paradox of Islam. 
Viewed in one way, Allah is throned afar from his 
creation in unattainable glory, and between him and 
it there can be no contact save through miracle, and 
then only irrationally. But viewed in another way, 
Allah and the spiritual world are very close to every 
human heart. There is no man but has enjoyed 
in his hours of sleep some measure of inspiration and 
some access to that world. In this way all men arc 
prophets to some extent, and every man, unless by 
evil life he has given the devil power to deceive him 


by night as well as by day, can learn of God's truth. 
But the matter goes even farther. Dreams are on 
record, and the veracity of the narrators of them 
cannot be doubted, in which God himself was per- 
sonally seen; the dream-books give sections to the 
interpretation of such appearances. This was too 
common to be an eccentricity; it was part of the 
normal possibility. Here is what al-Ghazzali, to 
whom I have already referred, has to say on its 
manner and actuality. 1 

He who does not know the true nature of vision [or 
dreaming] does not know the true natures of the different 
kinds of vision, and he who does not know the true nature 
of the vision of Muhammad and the other prophets, nay, 
even of the dead in general, does not know the vision of 
God in dream. So the ordinary man imagines that whoever 
sees Muhammad in a dream has seen his actual person. But 
just as an idea which comes to the soul is rendered by the 
imagination with a word, so every impression made on the 
soul has a form assigned to it by the imagination. How, too, 
could there be a vision of the person of the Prophet in a dream, 
when that person has been committed to his grave at al- 
Madina and has not left that to go to the place where the 
sleeper saw him. And even if we let that go, the Prophet is 
often seen by a thousand sleepers in one night in a thousand 
places and in different forms. And instinct supports reason 
in declaring that one person cannot be seen at one time in 
two places nor in two different forms. Whoever does not 
grasp that has contented himself, in the sphere of reason, with 
names and descriptions instead of realities and ideas. After 
that we need neither rebuke him nor speak to him. 

1 Al-Matfniln, j>. 5, edition of Cairo, a. h. 1303. 


But perhaps he will say that what he sees is the image 
(mithdl) of the Prophet, not his person (shakhs). Then it is 
either the image of his person or the image of his actual 
sanctified spirit which is apart from form or shape. If of 
his person, which is bones and flesh, what need have we of 
that person ? His person, in itself, is an object of the imagina- 
tion and the senses. Then, whoever saw it after death, apart 
from his spirit, would not see the Prophet but a body which 
used to move when the Prophet moved it. How then can 
he see the Prophet, when he sees the image of his person ? 
The truth is that it is the image of the Prophet's sanctified 
spirit, the site of prophecy, which he sees; not his spirit or 
substance or person, but his image in actuality. 

But it may be asked, "What then does his saying mean, 
'He who has seen me in dream, has seen me; for the devil 
does not make himself like to me'?" It only means that 
what the dreamer sees is an image, acting as a link between 
the Prophet and himself, instructing him as to the truth. 
Just as the prophetic substance, that is the sanctified spirit 
which remains of the Prophet after death, is free from color 
and form and shape, and yet knowledge from it reaches his 
people by means of a truthful image, possessing color and form 
and shape, while the prophetic substance is free from that, so 
similarly, the essence of God is free from shape and form, 
but knowledge from Him reaches the creature by means of a 
sensuous image of light or some other beautiful form, fitted 
to be an image for the essential intellectual beauty which has 
neither form nor color. That image then is truthful and 
real and a link in passing on knowledge. So the sleeper says, 
"I saw God in dream," not meaning that he saw his essence, 
just as he says, "I saw the Prophet," not meaning that he 
saw his essence and his spirit, or the essence of his person, 
but that he saw his image. 

But it may be said, "The Prophet has a like (mithl) but 


God has no like." That ignores the distinction between the 
"like" and the "image." "Image" is not an expression for 
"like," for "like" is an expression for that which is equal in 
all its qualities, but "image" does not call for equality. 1 The 
reason is something to which there is nothing like, yet we 
can use the sun as an image [symbol] for it, because of their 
relationship in one point. Sensuous percepts are shown by 
the light of the sun, and intellectual percepts by reason. 
This measure of relationship suffices in an image. Nay, a 
sultan may be represented in sleep by the sun, and a wazir 
by the moon. They are not equivalents in form or idea. 
Only a sultan bears universal rule and affects everything, and 
so far the sun is related to him. And just as a wazir is an 
intermediary between the sultan and his people in conveying 
the effect of just decrees, so the moon is an intermediary 
between the sun and the earth in carrying the effect of light. 
But these are images and not equivalents. 

Further, many dreams were presented to the Prophet in 
which milk and a cord, and the like, bore a part. He explained 
that milk meant Islam; as milk is the food of the external 
life, so Islam of the internal. And the cord was the Qur^an 
by which we were drawn to safety. Similarly, God has no 
equivalent, but he has images resembling intellectual rela- 
tionships to his qualities. Whenever we wish to teach an 
enquirer how God creates things and knows them and wills 
them, and how he speaks, and speech exists in its own person, 
we use man as an image for all that. And if man did not 
know the quality from himself, he would not understand the 
image in the case of God. An image is possible in God's 
case, and an equivalent is false; for an image explains but 
an equivalent resembles. 

But it may be said, "What you have mentioned does not 

■Al-Ghazzali is evidently using this word mithil, which I have 
rendered "image" in the sense of "symbol." 


lead to the conclusion that God is seen, nay, to the conclusion 
that the Prophet even is not seen — for seeing a symbol is not 
seeing the thing itself — how, then, did he say, 'Whoever sees 
me in dream sees me'? This must be an illicit metaphor 
meaning 'as though he saw me.' " We reply that exactly the 
same thing is meant when anyone says that he saw God in 
dream. He does not mean that he saw him in his essence as 
he is. For it is generally admitted that the essence of God 
cannot be seen, but that an image which the sleeper believes 
to be the essence of God, or to be the essence of the Prophet 
can be seen. The existence of such dreams cannot be denied; 
even if one individual has not seen them unanimous tradition 
must compel him to believe in them. Only the image some- 
times is truthful and sometimes is lying. When it is truthful, 
it means that God makes the vision a link between the seer 
and the Prophet to teach him something; it is within the 
power of God to create such a link between a creature and his 
attaining of the truth. 

You will notice that al-Ghazzali is essentially at 
one with Ibn Khaldfin, though he does not work out 
the psychology of the situation with such detail. 
What goes on in the brain of the dreamer is not his 
center of interest, rather the divine working behind 
the curtain. But that dreams consist of ideas con- 
veyed to the sleeper and by him clothed in familiar 
forms and, so to speak, dramatized, in that he agrees 
with Ibn Khaldun. 

Here now are some stories of Muslim dreams. 
You will find them marvclously clear and coherent, 
more suggestive of Du Maurier's "dreaming true" 
than of our usual jumbles. But, just as with us, 


there are individuals who dream rarely but then 
with extraordinary clearness and connection, it may 
be that Orientals, simply from their belief in them, 
may attain frequently to that clarity. Further, I 
have been careful to pick, as my illustrations, cases 
which we have absolutely at first hand. 

The following would be admitted even by the 
Society for Psychical Research. The dreamer him- 
self, Ibn Khallikan, a theologian, a lawyer, a gram- 
marian and a litterateur, who died in 1282 (a. d.) 
has told it in his Biographical Dictionary / of which 
an autograph MS is preserved in the British Mu- 
seum. He says : 

I once saw al-Mubarrad in dream and had a very strange 
affair with him; so I desire to tell it. I was in Alexandria in 
the year 636 [a. h.] and remained there for five months. I 
had there al-Mubarrad's book, the Kamil, and the <Iqd of Ibn 
c Abd Rabbihi, and used to read in them. 

He then tells of a contradiction in the c Iqd of a 
statement of al-Mubarrad's in the Rawda, another 
of his books, which interested him, and goes on: 

A few nights after I had come upon this passage, I saw in 
dream as though I was in Aleppo in the college of the Qadi 
Baha ad-Din, known as Ibn Shaddad, where I had been a 
student. And it was as though we had prayed the afternoon 
prayer in the place where the general custom was that prayer 
should take place. Then, when I had finished my prayer, 
I rose to go away; but I saw at the rear of the place a person 

1 Wttstenfeld's edition, No. 647; de Slane's translation, Vol. 
HI, p. 33- 


standing and praying. One of those present said to me, 
"That is al-Mubarrad." So I went to him and sat beside 
him, waiting until he finished. When he had finished, I 
saluted him and said, "I have just been reading your book, 
the Kdmil." He said to me, "Have you seen my book, the 
Rawda ?" I said, "No." I had not seen it before that time. 
Then he said, "Come and I will show it to you." So I 
went with him, and he went up with me to his house, and we 
went in, and I saw in it a great many books. He sat in front 
of them, searching for it, and I sat over against him. Then he 
took out a volume and handed it to me. I opened it and 
left it in my lap. Thereafter I said, "They have got hold of 
something against you here. " " What' have they got hold of ? " 
he asked. I said, "You have accused Abu Nuwas of error 
in such and such a verse," and I quoted it to him. "Cer- 
tainly," he said, "there is an error there." "No," I said, "he 
was right, and they say that you were wrong in blaming him." 
"How is that?" he said. So I told him what the author 
of the c Iqd had said, and he bit the end of his fore-finger and 
kept staring at me absentmindedly as though confounded. 
Then I awoke from my dream while he was still in that state. 

Al-Mubarrad, I may say, died in A. d., 898, almost 
400 years before Ibn Khallikan. 

Another dream, to which Ibn Khallikan alludes 
briefly, 1 was of a MS, a single gathering, containing 
traditions handed down orally, and traced back to a 
certain Surayj. In both cases he seems to have 
had no question that his dreams were veridical; that 
he had had a conversation with al-Mubarrad, and 
had seen and read an actual MS. 

1 WUstenfeld's edition, No. to; de Slane's translation, Vol. I, 
p. 47- 


Ibn Khallikan is a thoroughly representative 
Muslim figure. But if it should be thought that 
a theologian and lawyer might be touched with 
superstition, take the case of al-Beruni, who died in 
1048 (a. d.), probably, almost certainly, the greatest 
scientist of his time. He was a man of a thoroughly 
critical, objective mind, an astronomer, a chronolo- 
gist and a calm-headed student of custom and reli- 
gion. Yet he had his dream, which he himself 
narrates.' It was in the last night of his sixty-first 
year, and he dreamed that he looked for the new 
moon in the quarter where it should appear. Then 
he heard a voice, "Leave the new moon alone; 
thou art its son, one hundred and ninety times." 
This he took to mean that he would live still one 
hundred and ninety lunar months. That his actual 
life fell short a month testifies, if anything, to the 
historicity of the story. 

Frequently, to return to the religious world, a 
dream is given as a reason for going on a pilgrim- 
age to Mecca, and even for giving one's self to the 
religious life. Even more than in Christendom, con- 
versions in the theological sense have been worked 
among Muslims by dreams. 

By such means, as he himself tells in his Travel- 
Book,' was Nasir ibn Khusraw turned from the 

1 Chronologic orientalischer Vblker, p. xii. 
» Schefer's edition, p. 3; cf. E. S. Browne, Literary History 
oj Persia, Vol. II, p. 321. 


world. He was a secretary in the service of the 
state at Merv, and devoted to wealth and the pleas- 
ures it brings. In October, 1045, (a. d.) he con- 
fesses that he took the opportunity of a favorable 
astrological situation to address to Allah a special 
prayer for wealth. Under such circumstances, he 
believed it would be heard. Then he went to a 
neighboring town, and gave himself up for a month 
to wine. He was plainly in a completely unregener- 
ate condition, and jumbled together religion, astrol- 
ogy, his worldly ambitions, and his pleasures. 
But one night he saw in dream a figure which 
addressed him thus: "How long wilt thou drink the 
wine that deprives man of reason ? It were better 
that thou shouldst return to thyself." He answered, 
"The wise have found nothing better than wine to 
dissipate the cares of this world." "The loss of 
reason and of the possession of thyself," the figure 
replied, "do not give peace to the spirit. The wise 
cannot commend to any to give himself to be guided 
by madness ; there is rather need to seek that which 
will increase wisdom and inheritance." "How," he 
replied, "can I get it for myself ?" "He who seeks, 
finds, " added the form, and indicated with a gesture 
the direction of Mecca. 

This dream changed his life. However his own 
psychological condition may have been prepared, 
there was no question to his mind of the suddenness 
with which his conversion came. With the morn- 


ing he determined to give up everything for which 
he had lived for forty years. His secretaryship he 
resigned; his wealth he abandoned except what 
was needed for the journey; and on March 6, 1046, 
he set out from Merv on pilgrimage to Mecca. 
Thereafter his life was that of a wandering religious, 
and he died as a hermit in the mountains of Badakh- 
shan, in 1088. His is in many respects a perplexing 
personality, and legend has cast round him a nimbus 
of mingled miracle and heresy, but the great fact of 
this sudden conversion is firm. 

Another sudden conversion by a similar means 
befell al-Ash c an, the founder of the Ash c arite system 
of scholastic theology, now dominant for 800 years 
in the Muslim church. He had been brought up 
a Mu c tazilite, that is, in the heretical school which 
denied, on rationalistic principles, such doctrines of 
Islam as that the Qur>an was the Eternal Word of 
God, that God would be seen by the believers in 
Paradise and that God created all the actions of his 
creatures. Generally, they applied argument to 
theology, and did not, like the orthodox Muslims, 
content themselves with statements of the faith of 
the fathers as derived from the Qur'dn and the per- 
sonal words of Muhammad. 

As a Mu c tazilite, then, al-Ash c ari lived, taught, 
and fought for thirty or forty years. But he sprang 
of the blood of the desert, and with the Semitic 
consciousness for direct and mandatory faith he 


grew to be weary at heart of the dry logicalities of 
his fellows. Also the sequel makes it evident that 
he was coming to recognize — though the recogni- 
tion was still below the surface of his consciousness 
— that a purely rationalistic theology is absurd, 
and that the mysteries of the universe cannot be 
expressed in terms of human thought. His soul 
was yearning within for a direct "Thus saith the 
Lord!" — a voice of authority and peace. He was 
on his way to a spiritual crisis, which came one 
Ramadan in his snatches of sleep, wearied with 
fasting and prayer. The story has reached us in 
several different forms; I give here the one 1 which 
seems to me to hang best together psychologically. 
It will be remembered that to him, as a Mu c tazilite, 
dreams had little value. It is the more remarkable, 
then, to find his experience taking that form : 

While I was sleeping on one of the first ten nights of the 
month of Ramadan, I saw the Prophet, and he said to me, 
"O 'All, help the tenets handed down from me, for they 
are true." Then when I awoke great distress fell upon me, 
and I ceased not to be full of thought and care on account 
of my dream and because of the position which I held that the 
proofs were clear which contradicted those tenets. At last, 
on one of the middle ten nights, I saw the Prophet in dream, 
and he said to me, "What hast thou done in the matter con- 
cerning which I commanded thee?" I said, "O Apostle, 
what can I do? I have extracted from the tenets handed 

« Spitta, Zwr Geschichte Abifl-Hasan al-A&art's, p. 118; 
Arabic text emended. 


down from thee certain positions which theological reasoning 
permits, and I have followed the sound proof which can be 
applied universally to the Creator." Then he said, "Help 
the tenets handed down from me; for they are true." I 
awoke heavy with grief and sorrow and determined to abandon 
theological reasoning; I gave myself also to the study of the 
traditions of the Prophet, and to reciting the Qut°an. 

Then, when the twenty-seventh night came, in which night 
it was our custom in al-Basra that the professional reciters 
of the Qur>an and the people of science and excellence should 
gather and recite the whole of the Qur'an, I was with them, 
according to that custom. But such a drowsiness seized me 
that I could not stand up. And when I reached my house 
I slept; and I was in great distress through sorrow, on account 
of the recitation that night which I had lost. Then I saw the 
Prophet, and he said to me, "What hast thou done in that 
which I commanded thee?" I said, "I have abandoned 
theological reasoning and applied myself to the Book of 
Allah and to the record of thy sayings and doings." But he 
said to me, "Did I command thee to abandon theological 
reasoning ? I commanded thee only to help the tenets handed 
down from me, for they are true." Then I said, "O Apostle 
of God, how can I leave the tenets whose elements I have 
clearly apprehended and whose proof I know this thirty 
years for a dream ?" He said to me, "If I did not know that 
God will give thee a special aid from himself, I would not stand 
up from beside thee until I had expounded to thee those 
positions. And, since thou reckonest this my coming to thee 
a [mere] dream, was my seeing Gabriel a [mere] dream? 
Thou wilt not see me in this fashion hereafter; so apply thy- 
self to these things, for God will give thee a special aid from 
himself." Then I awoke, and said, "After the truth there is 
naught but straying." And I began to defend the traditions 
dealing with dreaming and the intercession of the Prophet 


and the vision of God, etc. And there used to come to me 
something of which, by Allah, I had never heard a particle 
from my opponents, nor had I seen concerning it in any book. 
So I knew that it belonged to that aidance of God most High, 
concerning which the Apostle of God had given me good 

That al-Ash c ari had some such dreams as these 
and with such consequences I make no doubt, al- 
though, unfortunately, the precise form is left uncer- 
tain to us. Out of doubt, too, is the momentous 
character of these dreams; they marked a turning- 
point in the religious history of Islam. This was 
what is called, "the return of al-Ash c ari" from the 
Mu c tazilites to the orthodox, bringing back with 
him the weapons of scholastic disputation which had 
before been found among the Mu c tazilites only. 
From his time on, the orthodox defended their faith 
with syllogisms as well as traditions ; this fell in 300 
of the Hijra, a. d. 913. 

Let me leap now, suddenly, to quite modern 
times and to an experience of Burton's at Mecca. 
There he met a company of pilgrims which attracted 
his especial attention: 

They were Panjabis, [he tells us'] and the bachelor's 
history was instructive. He was gaining an honest livelihood 
in his own country, when suddenly, one night, Hazrat Ali, 
dressed in green, and mounted upon his charger, Duldul — 
at least so said the narrator — appeared, crying in a terrible 
voice, "How long wilt thou toil for this world, and be idle 

1 Pilgrimage, Vol. II, p. 184, edition of London, 1898. 


about the world to come?" From that moment, like an 
English murderer, he knew no peace; conscience and Hazrat 
AH haunted him. Finding life unendurable at home, he 
sold everything; raised the sum of twenty pounds and started 
for the Holy Land. He reached Jeddah with a few rupees in 
his pocket; and came to Mecca, where, everything being 
exorbitantly dear and charity all but unknown, he might 
have starved, had he not been received by his old friend. 

But the truth is that there is hardly a Muslim of 
eminence but stories are told of dreams seen by him 
or affecting him. Here are two about al-Ghazzall. 
The first has much psychological truth, and is given 
thus in his own words :' 

I used at first to deny the ecstatic states of the saints and the 
grades of advancement of the initiated, until I companied with 
my Shaykh Yusuf an-Nassaj at Tus, and he kept polishing 
at me, until I was graced with revelations, and I saw God 
in a dream and he said to me, "O Abu Hamid!" I said, 
"Is Satan speaking to me?" He said, "Nay, but I am 
God that encompasseth all thy ways; Ami not [thy Lord] ?"' 
Then he said, "O Abu Hamid, abandon thy formal rules, 
and company with the people whom I have made the resting- 
place of my regard in my earth; they are they who have sold 
the Two Abodes for my love." Then I said, "By thy might, I 
adjure thee to give me again to taste good thought of theml" 
Then he said, "I do so; that which separated between thee 
and them was thy being occupied by the love of this world, so 
come out from it by free will before thou comest out from it 
abjectly [at death]. I pour forth upon thee lights from the 

""Life" in Journal oj the American Oriental Society, Vol. 
XX, p. 89. 

* Qur. vii, 171. 


protection of my holiness, so seize them and apply thyself." 
Then I awoke in great joy and went to my Shaykh Yusuf an- 
Nassaj and related to him the dream. And he smiled and said, 
"O Abu Hamid, these changing states and grades we obliterate 
with our feet; yea, if thou companiest with me, the glance of 
thy insight will be anointed with the ointment of succor 
until thou seest the empyreal throne and those around it. 
Thou wilt not be satisfied with that until thou witnessest that 
to which glances cannot attain, and thou wilt be purified 
from the uncleanness of thy nature and ascend beyond the 
limits of thy reason and hear discourse from God most High, 
like Moses, Verily, I am God, the lord of the worlds." 1 

In this, without question, there is genuine auto- 
biographical value. The following, 2 however, is only 
of value as showing us what passed current with 
the people; yet it is told by an Abu Bakr ash-Shashi 
who died only two years after al-Ghazzali himself: 

In our time there was a man who disliked al-Ghazzali and 
abused him and slandered him. And he saw the Prophet 
(God bless him and give him peace!) in a dream; Abu Bakr 
and c Umar (may God be well pleased with both of them!) 
were at his side, and al-Ghazzali was sitting before him, 
saying, "O Apostle of God, this man speaks against me!" 
Thereupon the Prophet said, '*ring the whips!" So the 
man was beaten on account of al-Ghazzali. Then the man 
arose from sleep, and the marks of the whips remained on his 
back; and he was wont to weep and tell the story. 

It would be easy to go on almost interminably with 
such tales as these, but I imagine that my point is 

1 Qur. xxviii, 30. 

• "Life," he. oil., p. 109. 


now sufficiently made. The means of access to the 
unseen world open to all, the universal crack in the 
shell of which I spoke, is the faculty of dreaming. 
All members of the Muslim world, orthodox, hereti- 
cal, unbelieving, theologians, philosophers, and the 
man in the street, believed and believe in dreams. 
There is a book, not nearly so well known as it 
should be and might be for its varied interest and its 
vivid picture of its author, his adventures and the 
world in which he lived. It is the account of his 
life and travels, dictated in 1355 (a. d.) at Fez by 
Ibn BatQta, after his return from twenty-eight years 
and more than 75,000 miles of wandering. He 
is a much more garrulous, free-spoken and wider 
traveled Marco Polo, and is almost as trustworthy 
an observer and describer. In certain ways he has 
marked kinship to Pepys. I shall have to use his 
book hereafter, but, in the meantime, you will find 
in its pages — there is a good edition of the Arabic 
text, with a fairly adequate French translation by 
De'fre'mery and Sanguinetti — numerous cases of 
dreams very much to our present point. For him, 
the crack in the shell was even wider than usual. 





We can now return to Ibn Khaldun's philoso- 
phizing. In the following terms 1 he makes a fresh 
attempt to grapple with our connections with the 

We find among men certain individuals who give informa- 
tion about events before these take place, by a nature in them 
by which their kind is distinguished from other men. In 
that, they do not have recourse to an art; nor do they draw 
inferences from an influence exercised by the stars and the 
like; we simply find that they have channels of apprehension 
dealing therewith which are necessarily involved in the con- 
stitution with which they have been endowed. Such are 
wizards and gazers into transparent bodies, like mirrors and 
cups of water, and gazers on the hearts and livers and bones 
of animals, and those who augur by birds and wild beasts, 
or who cast pebbles and grains of wheat and date stones. 
All these exist in the world of man; denial of them is not 
possible for anyone. Similarly, the mad have cast upon their 
tongues words from the Unseen, and they tell them. Sim- 
ilarly, a sleeper, when he has just fallen asleep, and a dead man, 
when he has just died, speak concerning the Unseen. So, too, 
it is with ascetics, i. e., the Sufis. They have well-known 
channels of information as to the Unseen, by way of grace 
from God (kardma). We will now speak about all these 

1 Beyrout edition, p. 105; Bulaq, p. 89; de Slane's translation, 
Vol. I, p. 318. 



modes of apprehension, beginning with soothsaying, and taking 
up the rest, one by one. 

But first, an introduction on the way in which the human 
soul is equipped to apprehend the Unseen after all these 
fashions. The soul is the essence of a spirituality potentially 
existent and so distinguished from the other spiritualities as 
we have mentioned above; it passes into actuality only in 
the body and its states. That everyone perceives. And 
everything that is potential has a substance and a form. The 
form of the soul, by which its existence is complete, is appre- 
hension itself and rational thought. It exists, in the first 
instance, in potentiality, equipped to apprehend and receive 
forms universal and particular. Then, its growth and 
existence become complete in actuality, through being joined 
with the body and through the arrival of its sensuously per- 
ceived apprehensions to which the body accustoms it, and 
through the universal ideas which are drawn from these 
apprehensions. So it rationally considers the forms, again 
and again, until it acquires in actuality a form consisting of 
apprehension and rational thought, and so its essence is 
completed. The soul, then, is like matter, and forms alternate 
upon it, through apprehension, one after the other. 

On that account, we find that a child, in the beginning of 
its growth, is not able to apprehend that which belongs to the 
soul essentially, neither in sleep, nor by revelation, nor other- 
wise. That is because its form, which is its very essence, 
namely apprehension and rational thought, is not complete; 
nay, not even the extraction of universals can be completely 
carried out. 

Then, whenever its essence is actually compk-te, it comes 
to have, so long as it is together with the body, two kinds of 
apprehension. One kind, through the instruments of tin- 
body, which the bodily channels of apprehension bring to it, 
and one kind through its essence, without any intermediary. 


It is screened off from the second kind by being immersed in 
the body and in the senses, and by their preoccupations. The 
senses are always drawing it to that which is without through 
the physical apprehension which is their primary nature. 
But often it plunges from the external into the internal; and 
the veil of the body is raised for a moment, either through a 
property which belongs to man in general, like sleep, or 
through a property which exists in some men, like soothsaying 
and divining with pebbles, or through a discipline, as that 
which gives Sufis their revelations. So the soul turns, then, 
to the essences which are above it, of the heavenly host, on 
account of the connection which exists between its region 
and their region, as we have shown above. These essences 
are spiritual, and are absolute apprehension and actual intelli- 
gence; in them are the forms and essentials of existence, as 
has preceded. Then, something of these forms shines out in 
them, and the soul acquires knowledge from them. Often, 
those apprehended forms are carried back to the imagination, 
which casts them in accustomed molds. Then, these appre- 
hensions are brought to the senses, either simple or in the 
molds of the imagination, and so are reported. This is an 
explanation of the equipment of the soul for the apprehension 
of the Unseen. 

Let us return to the exposition which we promised of the 
kinds of this apprehension. The gazers in transparent 
bodies, 1 such as mirrors and cups of water and hearts and 
livers and bones of animals, and those who divine with 
pebbles and grains, all are of the kind of the kahins. Only, 
they are weaker as to their fundamental nature, because the 
kahin, for the lifting of the veil of sense, does not need much 
assistance, but these seek assistance by limiting all the chan- 
nels of sense-apprehension down to one only. The noblest 

1 Scryers in English; cf. N. W. Thomas, Crystal-gating; 
also Andrew Lang, Making oj Religion. 


of these channels is vision, so vision is concentrated upon an 
object with a uniform surface (marH basil), until it gains an 
apprehension, by vision, of that of which it must give informa- 
tion. And often it is thought that those who observe see 
what they see in the surface of the mirror, but that is not so. 
They simply continue gazing at the surface of the mirror until 
it vanishes from their sight, and then there appears, between 
them and the surface of the mirror, a curtain, as though it were 
a cloud, on which forms show themselves. These are the 
things which they apprehend, and thus they can indicate what 
is desired to be known, either negatively or affirmatively. 
So they report about it, just as they have apprehended it; 
but as for the mirror and the forms which were (supposedly) 
apprehended in it, they did not really apprehend these in that 
way. There only grew for them, through it, this other kind 
of apprehension, which belongs to the soul and is not really 
apprehension by vision. The spiritual apprehender forms 
his apprehension only as though it were according to sense. 
The case is the same with gazers on the hearts and livers of 
animals and water in cups and so on. Some of these, we have 
observed, distract the senses by means of vapors only, or by 
spells by way of preparation. Then they tell what they have 
apprehended. They maintain that they see forms shaped in 
the air, telling them by symbols and indications the things 
a knowledge of which is desired. The absence of these last 
from the influence of sense is less than in the case of the 
first. The world is full of marvels! 

There follows a section on those who draw omens 
from the flight of birds, etc.; and then another, of 
more interest, on divination through the insane: 

The logical souls of these have a weak connection with 
the body, because their constitution is, for the most part, dis- 
ordered, and the animal spirit is weaker in them. So the 


soul of one of these, on account of the pain of what is lacking 
in him and of his disease which distracts his senses, is not 
plunged and submerged in the senses. And often another 
satanic spirituality importunes the soul to join him, clinging 
to it; and that soul is too weak to drive it off, so it is convulsed 
thereby. Then, when this convulsion has taken place, either 
through an essential disorder in the constitution, or by impor- 
tunity from satanic spirits which join it, the madman loses 
contact with his senses completely, and apprehends a flash of 
the world of his soul; and sense forms are impressed upon it. 
The imagination then transforms these; and often he speaks 
from his tongue only, in that state, without willing to speak. 1 
Apprehension, on the part of all these, has mixed in it truth and 
falsehood, because their contact with the spiritual world 
comes to them, even although they have lost contact with 
their senses, only after aid has been sought in externalities, 
as we have explained. Thence comes the false element in 
these appearances. 

There follows his opinion of those whom he calls 
wizards ( c arrdf). These profess to have connection 
with the Unseen, but are really guided by their in- 
telligence and by free conjecture. They use, as a 
basis, the opinion which they have gained from the 
first stages of this connection with the spiritual world 
and their apprehension thereof, and claim by that 
a knowledge of the Unseen. He further refers by 
name to some of the most celebrated kdhins of the 
heathen Arabs and to their wizards ; then he goes on 
to speak of the approach to the Unseen at the begin- 
ning of sleep, and at the first moments of death; 

1 These phenomena would now be called technically "posses- 
sion" and "automatic speech." 


how the tongue then speaks without intention — again 
automatic speech — when the veil of sense has been 
raised. So, some tyrannous rulers used to take 
men and kill them, that they might know from 
their speech, at the point of death, what the future 
would bring. He gives, further, a gruesome receipt 
how to dissolve away a living man in a barrel of 
oil, until nothing was left of him but the veins and 
sutures of his head. The head would then answer 
questions about the future. This he blames as 
belonging to the actions of the magicians, but accepts 
it as proving the wonders of the human structure. 
This story of the head that answers questions, I may 
say, is very widely spread in Islam, but mostly as 
a tale of ancient magic. It was localized, apparently, 
among the heathen of Harran in North Syria, and 
connected with their star worship. In Islam itself 
it was probably never practiced. 

Others sought to attain the same results by 
bringing about an artificial death — the phrase is 
Ibn Khaldun's. By ascetic exercises and discipline, 
they sought to destroy all the physical powers; then 
to obliterate their effects upon the soul; then to 
foster the soul by religious exercises and increase its 
power in itself. When this death descended upon 
the body, then sense and its veil were removed, and 
the soul could attain to the Unseen. Others strove 
to attain the same end by magical disciplines; these 
were especially in the remoter regions of the earth 


and in India. Ibn Khaldun had heard of the yogis 
and of the elaborate Indian literature on this sub- 
ject. Ibn c Arabi, a great mystical writer who died 
in 1240, revised with the help of a yogi a translation 
of one of these Indian texts. 1 

The traveler, Ibn Batuta, of whom I have already 
spoken, also had strange experiences in India and 
China with yogis. He observed them closely, and 
seems to have had no doubt as to the reality of their 
feats, but he shows a disposition to regard them as 
secret Muslims. Only a Muslim saint could work 
such wonders. Some of their miracles affected him 
with a palpitation of the heart, so that he fainted; 
but the performance was suspended until he recov- 
ered and could see it through. He names them as 
yogis (jtikiya) and is evidently a trustworthy wit- 

Ibn Khaldun comes next to the Sufis or Muslim 
mystics. He treats them twice in his book. Once 
here, when he considers especially their intercourse 
with the Unseen, and later, in a longer and more 
general article on their origin, history and tenets. 
In this place, he begins by saying, that their system 
of discipline is religious and free from the blame- 
worthy ends mentioned above. Their sole object 
is to approach closely to God, so that they may attain 
those pleasures which belong to the people who 
truly know God and enter into union with him. 

1 Brockelmann, Arabische Liiteratur, Vol. I, p. 446. 


The essence of their discipline is starving the body 
and feeding the soul with meditation upon God; 
for when the soul grows up thus, it grows ever 
nearer to the knowledge of God; and when it is 
deprived of this meditation, it becomes satanic. 
Whatever comes to the Sufis by way of knowledge 
and of control of the Unseen, is only accidental; 
it is not an object in the first instance. If it were an 
object, then their aim would be something besides 
God, and that would be equivalent to polytheism. 
One of them has said, "He who prefers (mystical) 
knowledge for the sake of (mystical) knowledge 
professes the second:" i. e., mystical knowledge and 
not God himself. 

Their aim, then, is God and nothing else; when 
anything else comes in, it is by accident only; and 
many of them avoid that when it presents itself and 
do not heed it. Still, that such things come to them 
is well known and is disapproved by a few theolo- 
gians only, lest the miracles of the saints might 
be confused with the evidentiary miracles of the 

The fact, however, that the saints have such 
miracles Ibn Khaldun proves by narratives from the 
Companions of the Prophet. Thus the story runs, 
that c Umar, the second Khalifa, was preaching one 
day, at al-Madlna, when he suddenly stopped in 
his sermon, and cried out, " O Sariya, the hill ! the 
hill 1" Sariya was a Muslim general, at that time, in 


al- c Iraq. He was hard pressed in battle at that mo- 
ment by unbelievers, but the voice of c Umar came to 
him from al-Madina and warned him of the hill that 
he must seize. " Many other such things happened," 
says Ibn Khaldun, "in the time of the Companions, 
and, after them, among the pious. In the lifetime 
and especially in the presence of the Prophet, such 
things were few, and even now, when the student 
of Sufism comes to al-Madina, his ecstatic states 
cease, so long as he remains there." Apparently, 
saints are a substitute for a prophet, and therefore 
in the lifetime and environment of a prophet, the 
specific character of sainthood is not exhibited. 
Further, according to many theologians, Muhammad 
is not absolutely dead, but lives, in a sense, in his 
tomb at al-Madina. Immediately around it, there- 
fore, the miracles and ecstatic states of saints do 
not appear. 

What Ibn Khaldun has to say in general upon 
the Sufis we may leave until later; only one class of 
them calls for notice now. These are idiots, who 
are mentally deranged like the insane, but who show 
along with that clear proofs of sainthood. Ibn 
Khaldun opines that whoever with sound under- 
standing knows their manner of life will recognize 
this, although they do not fulfil the external duties 
of the law. There occur in them wonderful things 
by way of stories of the Unseen, for they are not 
limited by anything, and they give their speech full 


course therein. The canon lawyers sometimes deny 
that they are saints at all on account of that dropping 
of the external ritual of the law which is seen in 
them, and because it is held that sainthood comes 
only through devotional exercises. But that is an 
error, for the grace of God comes to whomsoever 
God wills, and the attainment of sainthood does 
not stand in devotional exercises only. Since the 
human soul is imperishable, God endows it with 
what of his gifts he wills. In idiots the logical soul 
is not lacking; nor is it corrupt as in the case of the 
insane. It is only their reason which fails ; and it is 
to it that is attached the duty of the external observ- 
ance of the law. Ibn Khaldun adds some scholastic 
reasoning upon this point which we need not notice; 
his meaning is sufficiently clear. He warns, how- 
ever, that these idiot-saints are to be carefully dis- 
tinguished from the insane, whose logical souls have 
become corrupt, and who are, therefore, like the 
lower animals. 

To distinguish them, however, there are certain 
signs. First, that you will find in these idiots a 
distinct turn for religious meditation and devotion, 
although not according to legal conditions, because 
they are not under the law; the case is different 
with the insane. Secondly, that they were created 
in idiocy, while insanity befalls the insane after a 
portion of their life, on account of bodily, physical 
accidents. When this has befallen them, their logical 


soul is corrupted, and they act without reason or 
sequence. And, thirdly, their much busying them- 
selves with men, for good and for evil; for they do 
not wait for permission, there being no obligation 
to the law in their case; but the insane have no such 
concern regarding others. 

Ibn Khaldun, then, takes up some means of 
reaching the Unseen, without this throwing off of 
the veil of the senses. The claim of astrologers he 
shortly rejects, with a reference to his more elaborate 
examination elsewhere. The art of geomancy, that 
is, divining the future by arrangements of dots in 
sand or on paper, he describes more fully. It 
claimed, like all the arts, prophetic origin, and in 
proof of its lawfulness a tradition from Muhammad 
was alleged which seems to be a far-away echo of 
the pericope of the adulteress in John's Gospel. We 
need not take it up here, and I will only refer you 
to a note in Mr. John Payne's translation of Alaed- 
din (pp. 199 ff.), where is the only description of this 
art which I know in English. 1 After it all, Ibn 
Khaldun concludes shortly that such arts cannot 
possibly reach the Unseen, and that these dots, for 
example, can only assist toward it when they blur the 
sense perception of the worker of them. The only 
basis for reaching the Unseen lies in the nature of 
the human soul itself. And here he adds a remark 
which shows that many claimed falsely to possess 

1 See, too, de Slane's translation, Vol. I, pp. 23a ff. 


this power, and that he himself had a keen feeling 
of the need of some rational criterion: 

The sign [he says] of the constitution, which those have 
who can apprehend the Unseen, is that there comes upon 
them, when they turn to those things, a passing out from their 
natural state, such as yawning and stretching, and the begin- 
nings of a lack of sense-perception. This differs in strength 
and weakness, as this constitution differs in them. Any one 
however, in whom this sign is not found, has no perception 
of the Unseen, and is only trying to make money out of lies. 

Finally, Ibn Khaldun mentions a class of efforts 
to reach the Unseen, based, neither on the, for him 
undoubted, properties in the spiritual soul, nor on the 
hypothesis of the influence of the stars, nor on the 
conjectures and fancies of wizards, but on supposed 
powers residing in combinations of numbers and 
letters. These Ibn Khaldun rejects absolutely, 
but he has found it necessary to state and expose 
them at considerable length. I need not follow 
him here. In part, they exhibit the curious lack of 
simple arithmetical power in the Muslim peoples, 
which has made them fall back on Copts and Ar- 
menians as calculating machines. An arithmetical 
problem which involves nothing more than a simple 
proportion, or, at the most, requires for its statement 
a simple equation, appears to suggest to them the 
mysteries of the universe. This undoubtedly arises, 
apart from their lack of arithmetical ability, from 
their feeling, which I have already mentioned, that a 
very thin shell divides them from the Unseen. Pro- 


portions of numbers lead them almost immediately 
to suppose proportions existing mysteriously in the 
very nature of things. On another side this affected 
our own Middle Ages as the doctrine of signatures. 

It was undoubtedly fostered, further, by the fact 
that the letters of the Arabic alphabet had numerical 
values, and that those values did not fit, in any 
way, the order of the letters in that alphabet. The 
values were derived from the quite different order 
of the Hebrew alphabet; but comparatively few 
Muslims knew that, and in consequence there is the 
feeling that the number inheres, in some mysterious 
way, in the personality of the letter. It is as though 
we should always think of the number ten when we 
saw the letter x, and also have a vague feeling that 
whenever x occurred in a word, there must, in the 
scheme of things, be some working of the value 

Somewhat similar things are used in games and 
guesses by us. To a Muslim, that game, for example, 
of telling a person to take a number and perform on 
it divers operations and from the result of them 
telling him his age, would seem to involve direct 
contact with the spiritual world. Ibn Khaldun, 
naturally, has no patience with all this. He had 
Berber blood in him and could count and reckon; 
but the detail which he feels compelled to give to 
it and the elaborate simplicity of his explanation 
and example of proportion in arithmetic show how 


absolutely unarithmetical were the minds for which 
he was writing. 

It might now be in place to take up his doctrine 
of the saints and their miracles. But as has been 
suggested already, it seems better to leave his fuller 
discussion of that subject until we come to deal with 
the actual path and experience of the religious soul 
on its way to God. 

I take up next, therefore, his doctrine of magic 
and talismans :' 

The sciences of magic and of talismans concern the nature 
of the equipments by which human souls are able to produce 
effects in the world of the elements, either with or without a 
helper of the heavenly things. If without a helper, it is magic; 
if with a helper, it is the science of talismans. Since these 
sciences are forbidden in different law-codes, both on account 
of their hurtfulness, and because there is involved in them a 
looking towards someone else than God, whether a star or not, 
books concerning them are almost entirely lacking, except 
as to what is found in the books of the ancient peoples before 
the time of Moses, such as the Nabataeans and the Chaldeans. 

None of the prophets who preceded Moses laid down laws 
or brought commands. Their books contained only exhorta- 
tions, the doctrine of the unity of God and admonitions as to 
heaven and hell. So these sciences existed among the people 
of Babel, Syrians and Chaldeans, and among the people of 
Egypt, the Copts and others. These peoples had on them 
writings and traditions; but only a little has been translated 
for us from their books on this subject, like the Nabataean 
Agriculture, one of the books of the people of Babel. 

1 Beyrout edition, p. 496; Bnl&q, p. 414; de Slanc's transla- 
tion, Vol. Ill, p. 171. 


Then men took this science over from them, and became 
well versed in it; and, thereafter, books were composed like 
the Scrolls of the Seven Stars, and the Book of Timlim, the 
Indian, on the forms [or figures] of the Scale and the Stars, etc. 
Then Geber appeared in the East, the greatest of the magicians 
in this community, and examined the books of the experts and 
extracted the art, testing thoroughly and extracting its cream. 
He composed, also, other work:,, and wrote much upon this 
art and on the art of natural magic, because that art is one of 
the branches of magic. For the changing of specific bodies 
from one form to another can take place only by a force of the 
soul, not by mechanical art, and that is part of the nature of 
magic, as we shall mention in its place. Then came Maslama 
ibn Ahmad of Madrid, the leader of the Spanish people in 
mathematics and magical things. He expounded all these 
books and corrected them, and gathered their divergent views 
in his own book. No one has written on this science since him. 

I have translated this passage at length, because 
of its historical suggestiveness. It was the fate of 
the whole science of history among Muslims, and 
Ibn Khaldun himself does not rise above it, to seek 
to know too much ; to abhor all vacuum, and not to 
be too critical toward books which professed, on 
very slender evidence, to be authorities on the re- 
motest times. All divisions of Muslim literature 
have suffered from the pseudograph; and here Ibn 
Khaldun makes mention of one of the most cele- 
brated and fatal of these books, which, after mis- 
leading all Muslim writers, misled even a European 
scholar in the nineteenth century. The Nabataean 
Agriculture was written at the beginning of the 


tenth century by a certain Ibn al-Wahshlya, a scion 
of an Aramaic family. His book is no translation, 
but a frank forgery, in which he invents a complete 
ancient literature and exalts the old Babylonians 
over the conquering Arabs. It is upon his book and 
upon their own conception of the history of reve- 
lation through a series of prophets, that Muslims 
base their ideas of the ancient civilizations. 

With Geber we touch honester and more solid 
ground. He seems to have lived in the latter part 
of the eighth century, and to have written much 
upon chemistry. He is the greatest name, of course, 
in the history of alchemy, but whether all the books 
ascribed to him, and, if so, which, are really his, 
we are absolutely in the dark. The difficulty is that 
they, in their European translations at least, show a 
scientific knowledge, which chemists find almost 
unbelievable of his time. Maslama of Madrid, on 
the other hand, is a perfectly historical character, 
who died 1007 A. d. Ibn Khaldun often refers to 
him. 1 

But though Ibn Khaldun's ancient history was led 
astray by these forgeries, and his criticism vitiated 
by these assumptions, yet, when he comes to phi- 
losophize the whole question, he shows the same 
grasp of the possibilities of the mind. We must 

1 See, on him, de Slane's long note, Vol. Ill, p. 172, and on the 
whole subject the article- on Muhammadan alchemy in Hastings' 
Encyclopaedia of Religions and Ethics, Vol. I, pp. 289 ff. 


remember here, as everywhere, that he takes a great 
deal for granted which, not many years ago, we 
would have declined to think about at all, and only 
within the last few years have accepted as worthy of 
any consideration. The limits of what science is 
willing to discuss, which are so apt to hamper us, 
did not exist for him. The occult phenomena, to 
which we are now turning again, because they have 
simply been forced upon our notice, had met him 
in still richer abundance. Only he felt no need of 
turning away from them. He accepted them and 
set to work to rationalize them. 
This is how he did it : 

Although human souls are one as a species, yet they divide 
up into a great many kinds, each with different properties. 
These properties are inborn constitutions; so, the souls of the 
prophets have a property which prepares them for the divine 
and for intercourse with angels, and for the influence on the 
things of this world which necessarily follows. In magicians, 
on the other hand, there is a peculiar psychic power by which 
they influence these things and draw down and apply the 
spiritual force of the stars, and thus exercise an influence 
which is either psychic or satanic. The influence, then, of the 
prophets is by the help of God and by a divine peculiarity, 
while the souls of the diviners have a peculiar ability to learn 
about hidden things through satanic forces. Similarly, each 
kind of human beings is distinguished by a peculiarity which 
is not found in any other. 

The souls of magicians, further, are of three kinds. The 
first of these, exerts its influence through an effort of the will 
only, without using an instrument or a helper. This is what 
the philosophers call magic. The second uses as a helper 


the intervention of the spheres, or of the elements, or of the 
peculiarities of numbers. This they call talismanic art, and 
this kind is weaker than the first. The third kind has an 
influence on the imaginative powers. The user of this influ- 
ence can control the imagination to a certain extent, and 
impress upon it different kinds of appearances and resem- 
blances and forms, according to his purpose; he affects the 
senses of those who see those things by the force of his soul 
influencing them. Then it is to him who sees as though he 
saw those things externally; and yet there is nothing of the 
kind there. So it is related that some have been caused to 
see gardens and rivers and castles that had no external reality. 
This the philosophers call conjuring. Those, then, are the 
three divisions. 

Ibn Khaldun then goes on to discuss the theologi- 
cal and ethical implications in this. He points out 
that this peculiar power exists in the magician po- 
tentially, just as do all human powers. It can be 
brought to actuality only by practice. Practice, in 
the case of magic, consists in turning the attention 
toward the celestial spheres and the stars and the 
upper worlds and the evil spirits, and magnifying, 
worshiping and submitting one's self to them. But 
this is turning toward other than God, which is 
unbelief. Magic, then, must be largely reckoned as 
a form of unbelief. On the ethical side, there can 
be no question of its corrupting influence. 

Again, it is necessary to distinguish between these 
three kinds of magic, when we consider whether 
there is in magic any external reality. In the third 
kind, it is plain that there is none. But as to the 


first two kinds, their reality is certain. On that 
point, Ibn Khaldun has no doubt; all reasonable 
men admit it, and the Qufan speaks of it with per- 
fect clearness. There we have the case of the two 
angels at Babel, Harut and Marut, who taught man- 
kind magic. The Prophet, too, had spells cast upon 
him. A chapter of the Qufan speaks of "the evil 
of those who blow upon knots," and "A'isha tells 
how those magic knots unloosed themselves, when 
this chapter was recited over them. The people of 
Babel, Chaldeans, Nabataeans, Syrians — this is Ibn 
Khaldun's ethnography — stood in repute as ma- 
gicians, and the Qufan tells us how the magicians 
of Egypt competed with Moses. In the temples of 
upper Egypt traces are still left of them. This 
reference by Ibn Khaldun is rather obscurely ex- 
pressed, but it seems to point to the paintings and 
sculptures in Egyptian tombs, and to the mummies 
and figures found there. 

Egypt, for all Muslims, has been a land of mystery, 
of ancient stories, hidden treasure, and enchanters. 
The Egyptians themselves, of Ibn Khaldun's own 
day, were believed to be peculiarly expert magicians. 
He gives a very obscure account of one whom he had 
seen at work. I must admit that I cannot translate 
this passage with any certainty, and de Slane, in 
his French rendering, 1 makes the same confession. 
But the general drift seems to be as follows: The 

1 Vol. Ill, p 177. 


magician built up out of different materials suited 
to his purpose, a figure of the individual whom he 
wished to enchant ; these bore an actual relationship, 
either real or symbolic, to the person and character of 
his victim. Then he uttered sounds over that figure, 
and after gathering some saliva in his mouth, blew 
it repeatedly at the figure, apparently mixing in with 
this, at the same time, words of enchantment. He 
held over the figure, too, a cord which he had pre- 
pared and made a knot upon it by way of drawing 
to his assistance one of the Jinn and strengthening 
the spell. The idea was that an evil spirit went out 
from him when he blew, attached to his saliva, and 
fell upon his victim. 

This is not very lucid, I confess, yet one can easily 
recognize in it a number of the permanent elements 
in magical operations such as appear in all countries 
and times. 

But Ibn Khaldun had other experiences which are 
more intelligible. He had met professors of magic 
who could point to a garment or to a skin, pronounce 
words secretly at it, and it was cut or torn. They 
could point, also, with a slicing gesture at sheep 
pasturing, and their entrails would fall out of them 
to the ground. He had heard, too, that in India there 
were some who would point at a man, and he would 
fall dead. It would then be found that his heart 
had vanished. They would point, too, at pome- 
granites, and all the seeds would be found to have 


vanished. Ibn Khaldun does not tell us here what 
Ibn Batuta of his own personal knowledge does, 
that the Indian magician was supposed to have 
devoured what was thus spirited away. 

To pass to talismans, Ibn Khaldun had observed 
wdnders worked by the use of what we call "amica- 
ble numbers." For example, if you take the num- 
bers, 284 and 220, each of them is equal to the sum 
of the aliquot parts of the other. This peculiarity 
seems to have struck the oriental imagination, and 
given rise to a belief that this relationship could 
be used to promote love and friendship. Upon two 
symbolic images, constructed according to astro- 
logical rules, these numbers were placed, one on the 
one and the other on the other. Their possessors, 
then, would become friends. Ibn Khaldun seems 
actually to say that experience had borne this out. 
He tells of other kinds of talismans, consisting partly 
of figures, as of a lion or a snake or a scorpion 
imprinted under certain conditions upon certain kinds 
of steel, partly of what we call "magic squares." 

He then comes back to the very remarkable 
"slitting" magic, which is of the greater interest to 
us that he had had personal experience of it. It 
flourished peculiarly in western North Africa; and 
the people who professed it terrorized their neigh- 
bors by the threat of using it against their cattle 
and sheep. Naturally, both parties concealed the 
matter out of fear of the authorities, but Ibn Khal- 


dun had met a company of these "slitters," had 
witnessed their operations, and they had told him 
that they had a peculiar art and practice, through 
heathen prayers and by drawing in the assistance 
of the Jinn and the stars. This was laid down for 
them in a book which they had and which they 
studied. They could exercise this art upon anything 
except a free man, that is upon goods and cattle 
and slaves. As they put it, "We can only work 
upon that in which money walks." 

This, [says Ibn Khaldun] is what they assert: I asked one 
of them and he told me about it. As for what they do, that is 
plain and evident. I have been present at much of it, and 
have seen it without any doubt. 

The philosophers distinguished between magic and talis- 
mans, but they lay it down that both together are due to an 
influence belonging to the human soul. They give as a proof 
of this influence how the soul affects the body apart from the 
ordinary operations of nature or physical causes. Nay, there 
are effects which arise from spiritual conditions, such as heat 
caused by joy, or from ideas, such as those which result from 
fear. One who is walking upon the edge of a wall, or upon a 
tight-rope, when fear of falling comes strongly upon him, will 
most certainly fall. Only by long practice can the fear of 
falling be removed, and then such walk safely. If, then, the 
soul has this influence upon its own body, without physical 
natural causes, it is possible that it can have a similar influence 
upon another body, since its relationship to bodies in this kind 
of influence is one; for it is not enfolded in the body or shut 
up in it. So it follows that it can exert an influence upon all 
material objects. 

This, you will notice, is precisely the theory which 


lies behind the "mental science" and "Christian 
science" of our own day. It is also practically 
involved in the infinitely more scientific "meta- 
psychical," to use Dr. Maxwell's word, investiga- 
tions which are now going on. There lies in it an 
indubitable element of truth. But the philosophers 
further distinguish between magic and talismans : 

In magic the magician has no need of a helper, but the 
user of a talisman seeks help from the spiritualities of the 
stars, and the secrets of numbers, and the peculiarities of 
things, and the situations of the spheres, these working upon 
the world of the elements, as astrologers say. Magic, they 
say, is the union of a spirit with a spirit. But in the use of a 
talisman there is the union of a spirit with a material object; 
in idea, a joining of the upper, heavenly natures with the lower 
natures. The upper natures are the spiritualities of the 
stars, and on that account the holder of a talisman mostly 
seeks aid in astrology. The magician, again, according to the 
philosophers, cannot acquire the art of magic, but must have 
it constitutionally. He has the peculiar ability to exercise 
this kind of influence. 

Their distinction between magic and miracle, then, is that 
miracle is a divine ability, giving the soul this power of 
influence; the prophet is aided by the Spirit of God. But the 
magician does it of himself, by his own psychical power, or 
by satanic aid, under some conditions. 

The distinction of the philosophers, then, went 
down to the very nature of the thing. But Ibn 
Khaldun himself is inclined to follow the external 
signs of the difference: 

A miracle is what is worked by a good man, for good 


objects and for purified souls, and by way of proof of the 
prophetic office. Magic is worked only by an evil man, for 
evil purposes and with evil results. This, according to 
philosophical theologians, is the distinction between the two. 

I do not understand that Ibn Khaldun would 
entirely reject the view of the philosophers, as given 
above, but only that he regards his own distinction 
— he here evidently reckons himself with the philo- 
sophical theologians — as more simple, and as giving 
also the essentials in the case. That a distinc- 
tion between miracles and magic was felt to be 
necessary will explain why I give so much time to 
magic now. Just as in the case of an Oriental, it 
is impossible to separate between his philosophy 
and his theology, so it is impossible to separate 
between his religion and what we have, in a some- 
what narrow spirit, got into the habit of calling 
"superstition," or, more liberally, "folk-lore." 

But not prophets only and magicians can thus 
bend the order of the world. The Sufis, too, or 
saints, have their miracles, and exercise a similar 
influence. This is really a far more important 
distinction. Muhammad was the last prophet, and 
a consideration of the nature of the prophetic mira- 
cles is thus largely a subject for the schools. But 
the miracles of the saints are happening every day, 
as we shall see, and a knowledge of them is a most 
practical matter. They take place only by the 
power of God and in proportion to the faith of the 


saint and the closeness of his intercourse with God. 
Thus, by the very nature of the case, it is impossible 
that he can give himself to evil, but is held closely 
by the command and the permission of God. Him, 
too, magic cannot oppose; it collapses and vanishes 
at his touch. So the enchanted flag of Persia, signed 
with magic numbers in planetary hour, ensuring 
victory, fell before the Companions of the Prophet 
at al-Qadisiya, where the empire of the Chosroes 
went down for ever. 

Last among the influences exerted by the soul, Ibn 
Khaldun mentions the evil eye, the Eye as it is 
called simply in the East. He who has it, sees a 
thing, admires it, envies the owner, and smites him 
with his eye. There is no doubt of this; but it 
differs from all other magic, in that it needs not the 
will of him who has it. It works automatically 
and he cannot control it. So, if anyone kills by 
magic or talisman, he is to be put to death; but not 
if he kills with the Eye. 

Finally, as to all this, Ibn Khaldun makes a very 
curious and illuminating statement. It is perfectly 
evident throughout his book that he is discussing 
these matters in a spirit of the keenest intellectual 
curiosity and interest. Such subjects interested him, 
as they are interesting so many of us now. But that 
is the paradox of which he seems himself to have 
been unconscious. According to Muslim law, he 
says, actions are allowable if they are important for 


us (a) religiously, that is for our final salvation, or 
(b) temporally, for our living in this world. If a 
thing does not concern us from either of these points 
of view, and if there is in it any hurtfulness, either 
actual as in the case of magic, or imagined as in the 
case of astrology, it is legally forbidden. But, 
further, if it is not of importance to us, nor is hurtful, 
it is still to be avoided ; letting such things alone is 
a drawing near to God, for part of the beauty of 
a man's islam, resignation to God, is leaving alone 
what does not concern him. 

This, you will see, throws an astonishing flood of 
light upon Muslim ideals. Contrary to his own plain, 
but evidently unconscious practice, Ibn Khaldun 
teaches that the true Muslim must give up and 
avoid anything that is not directly of moment 
for his life in this world or the next. All that we 
would reckon as the "interesting" is swept away; 
the useful alone is in point. And this is not Ibn 
Khaldun's view only. With him the theologians of 
Islam agree. If they have a section on the excellence 
of science (/* fadli-l-Hlm) there is certain to follow it 
another on the praiseworthy and the blameworthy 
sciences (al-Hilum al-mahmuda wal-madhmuma). 
Knowledge for its own sake has no place; it must be 
of use for this world or the next. And this is not 
simply theological; it is in the very texture of the 
Muslim mind. We can say, "This is an interesting 
book;" in Arabic you cannot express that idea. I 


turn to Badger's English-Arabic Lexicon and find 
a large quarto page on " Interest " and its derivations. 
But it only helps you to say that the book gives 
pleasure or amuses or is desirable or useful or 
touching or surprising or important or sways you 
or captivates you, never that it arouses that disin- 
terested intellectual curiosity which we so strangely 
call "interest." Even curiosity, in the highest 
and finest sense, we cannot render. It is either 
deep, devoted study and research, or intrusive 

Here, beyond question, we have one of the keys 
to the fatal defect in the Muslim mind. Exceptions, 
of course, there have been, conscious and uncon- 
scious, but the whole trend of usage and weight of 
influence have gone to limit and destroy free intel- 
lectual workings ; the object must be plain from the 
first, and be one of certain classified kinds. Investi- 
gation which does not know where it is going to 
come out, and what it may produce, and does not 
care, is under the Muslim ban. Amusement, even, 
must justify its existence by its usefulness; recrea- 
tion must seek protection behind wise saws about 
making Jack a dull boy and tales about the surprising 
humors and unbendings of saints. The free, self- 
determining, self-developing soul may not walk its 
own path, however innocently, but must fit itself to 
the scheme and pattern of schools. 

And this does not hold of the Arabic world onlv. 


Here is what one of the keenest observers of Islam 
in recent years has to say on the matter : 

Few things throw a more instructive light on the character 
of a nation than an examination of the ideas which cannot 
be expressed in their language. Now the Turkish language, 
copious as it is, contains no equivalent for "interesting." 
You can say, this is a useful book, or a funny book, or a learned 
book, or a book which attracts attention, but you cannot 
precisely translate our expression, "This is an interesting 
book." Similarly you cannot render in Turkish the precise 
shade of meaning conveyed by the phrase, "I take an interest 
in the Eastern question, or the Mohammedan religion." 
The various approximate equivalents imply either a more 
active and less intellectual participation than that denoted 
by interest, or else suggest that these serious subjects are 
something queer and funny which it is amusing to hear about. 
This lacuna in the language has its counterpart in the brain. 
The ordinary Turk does not take an interest in anything, 
and his intelligence seems incapable of grappling with any 
problem more complex than his immediate daily needs. A 
natural want of curiosity, and a conviction that their own 
religion contains all that man knows or needs to know, keep 
the provincial population in a state of ignorance which seems 
incredible and fantastic* 

This certainly is too strongly expressed to apply 
to the much keener-witted Syrian, Arabian, or 
Egyptian. But the lack of the idea of free, untram- 
meled interest, and the rejection of everything that 
may in some remote development loosen the sense of 
dependence on God characterize all; which, to come 
round to our starting-point, makes only more sur- 

> Turkey in Europe, by "Odysseus," p. 98. 


prising Ibn Khaldun's fresh, open-eyed attention to 
the phenomena of life. 

I have spent so much time on this because it is 
not alien, nay, is very pertinent to our present sub- 
ject. One of the most astonishing things in Muslim 
religious feeling is that even its mystical attitudes 
are utilitarian. Normally, among all peoples, the 
mystic is so plunged in the experiences of the moment 
that the future fades out of reality. When he is 
struggling to find peace he is not concerned with his 
salvation from hell-fire, but only that the choking 
burden of the present may be lifted from him. When 
he has reached peace, the vision and the light of God 
are on his daily path, and in them he walks. God 
is in the world and he is with God. I should be 
loth to say that this mystical disinterestedness is not 
also found in Islam, but far more frequent and 
always possible is the coarser, harder fear of the 
Fire; the sense of God as the relentless Watcher in 
whose presence no soul can stand. 

We have seen already, how the conversion even of 
such a saint as al-Ghazzali was such simple fear; 
fear as of an earthly sovereign who might doom to 
death if unrecognized; such fear as our revivals 
too often have known. Certainly there mingled in 
it the baffled struggles of his intellect, snared in the 
net of this most unintelligible world, overborne by 
the burden of its travail and mystery. But once he 
had reached the sense of a God behind the veil — the 


Allah of the theologies of his day — the fear of that 
Allah overwhelmed him. Thereafter he might have 
moments of reconciliation and communion, but al- 
ways watching was the dread of a quickly offended 
possibly implacable deity. " Only by the mercy of 
Allah," said the Prophet, "can I hope to enter the 
Garden; and so all Muslims have said. The love of 
God is an afterthought. 

So, too, Ibn Khaldun 1 warns against plunging 
into speculation on the mysteries of the divine 
Unity. It is sufficient for eternal salvation simply 
to confess that Unity in the broad. To go farther 
will lead to nothing but disappointment and, it may 
be, unbelief. The Prophet said, "Whoever dies 
testifying that there is no God but Allah, will enter 
the Garden." 

Still more curious is the position of Averroes. 
He led a double existence with two sharply distin- 
guished sets of views. Openly he was a broad-school 
Muslim, who, while he admitted that the mass of 
the people should be taught the simple statements 
of the Qufan without explanation or discussion, 
claimed for himself and all educated men the right 
to speculate and explain these statements so as to 
meet the requirements of philosophy. But this was 
simply for protection. On the other side, he was a 
neo-Platonic-Aristotelian philosopher, separated by 

> Beyrout edition, p. 459; Bulaq, p. 383; de Slane's transla- 
tion, Vol. Ill, p. 42. 


three great heresies from the Islam of his time. He 
held the eternity of the material world ; he held that 
God cannot know individuals, cannot exercise provi- 
dence in any usual sense, can only produce and 
embrace the Whole; he held that the race alone was 
eternal, but all individuals must pass away. Natur- 
ally, then, he was driven to two positions on the 
matter of salvation. In his books intended for the 
reading of ordinary, educated men, he followed 
the regular Muslim doctrine and taught that true 
knowledge is the knowledge of God, and especially 
of the religious law, and of happiness and unhappi- 
ness in the world to come. 1 In his philosophical 
writings, on the other hand, intended for students 
of Aristotle, he denounces all popular myths about 
the future life. Among dangerous fictions, he says, 
we must count those which tend to present virtue as 
simply a means of arriving at happiness. If virtue 
is nothing more, no one will abstain from pleasure 
except in the hope of being recompensed with usury; 
a brave man will not seek death, except to avoid a 
greater evil; a just man will not respect the goods of 
another, except to acquire double. 8 Nothing could 
show the normal Muslim position and its results 
more clearly. 
Before leaving the subject of magic and talismans, 

1 Philosophie u. Theologievon Averroes . . . . ilbers. von M . J . 
MUller, p. 18. 

' Renan, Averroes el I'Averroisme, p. 156. 


one or two general considerations will be in place. 
First, you must not think that such things belong 
to a past age of Islam and have now lost their hold 
except upon the most ignorant. That is not so. 
From the one end of the Muslim world to the other, 
an unquestioning faith in the magician still reigns. 
Scattered among the educated classes, it is true, you 
will meet a good deal of absolute Voltairean unbelief, 
but even these individuals are liable to set back at 
any time. The shell that separates the Oriental 
from the Unseen is still very thin, and the charm or 
amulet of the magician may easily break it. The 
world of the Arabian Nights is still his world, and 
these stories for him are not tales from wonderland, 
but are, rather, to be compared to our stories of the 
wonders and possibilities of science, such as M. 
Jules Verne used to write and which we now owe 
to Mr. H. G. Wells. So Lane, in his time, found the 
magic mirror in Cairo, and he and others had some 
most interesting experiences. You will find these 
brought together in Mr. N. W. Thomas' book on 
Crystal Gazing. Only I would add that when Mr. 
Thomas says, (p. 94) that Lane was eventually in- 
clined to ascribe the magician's success to a certain 
renegade Scotsman, he goes too far. Scots have 
been responsible for a good deal, but not, in Lane's 
final opinion, for this. A note by his nephew to a 
later edition of his Arabian Nights (Vol. I, p. 60) 
says that there were cases which remained to him 


inexplicable. The magic mirror, I may add, is still 
in popular use in Cairo. Only now no professional 
magician is needed. Books have been printed 
describing the mode of using it and all classes 
experiment for themselves. Very few doubt the truth 
of its revelations. 

More recent evidence is given in Professor E. 
G. Browne's Year Among the Persians. There he 
met a magician who produced in his presence some 
most interesting telekinetic phenomena similar to 
those which Dr. Maxwell has described in his Meta- 
psychical Phenomena (pp. 318 ff.) as performed by a 
medium whom he calls Meurice. They included 
moving a comb and a watch lying about three feet 
from the magician. Unfortunately, Professor Browne 
did not follow the matter up, being disgusted appar- 
ently by some lies which he found the magician was 
telling about him. He had also heard stories of the 
magic mirror, but had had no experiences himself. 
A tale told to him of experiences in learning to con- 
trol the Jinn I shall take up later. 

But, secondly, while belief in the power of magic 
is spread generally throughout Islam, and few doubt 
that the magician by his spells can break the thin 
shell of custom and law, and work what the results 
only can distinguish from God-given miracle, this 
. does not affect the Muslim religious attitude so much 
as might be thought. The overwhelming fact of 
the personality, the will and power of God is over 


all, and under that shadow men feel secure. At the 
opposite extreme from Islam, in this respect, are 
those lowest religions, in which the gods, as innocu- 
ous, are ignored, and demons — practically magic and 
witchcraft — are feared and propitiated. But in Islam 
the puzzle is, rather, how any forms of black magic 
can survive and any magician dare to set himself 
against Allah. That the art was and is cultivated is 
certain; but probably the student soothes his con- 
science and allays his fears by doubts as to the precise 
nature of the spirits he invokes, much as he of medi- 
aeval Europe felt sure that in the end he could cheat 
the devil, who was notoriously stupid. 

Finally, if you would appreciate the tremendous 
difference of atmosphere which this distinction in- 
volves, compare with the Arabian Nights the Golden 
Ass of Apuleius. Both books are instinct with piety 
of a kind; in each case, in a setting, for us, most 
certainly queer. It has been said, that the Golden 
Ass is the first book in European literature showing 
piety in the modern sense, and the most disreputable 
adventures of Lucius lead, it is true, in the end, to 
a religious climax. The Arabian Nights, on the 
other hand, is, in spite of everything, so pious that 
the sense of the all-seeing eye and the need of sub- 
mission to the all-guiding hand become oppressive. 
But how different in each is the feeling toward the 
Unseen ! Few books, in spite of fantastic gleams of 
color and light, move under such leaden-weighted 


skies as the Golden Ass. There is no real God in 
that world; all things are in the hands of enchanters; 
man is without hope for here and hereafter; full of 
yearnings, he struggles and takes refuge in strange 
cults. But the world of the A rabian Nights is God's 
world. There is sun and air and the sense of an 
ultimate justice. Joy comes with the morning there. 
And so, for all his belief in magic and his sense 
of the power of enchanters, the Muslim is a man. 
He stands on God's earth, beneath his sky, and 
at any time can enter that presence and carry his 
wrong to the highest court. Between him and Allah 
there stands nothing, and he is absolutely sure of 



The next point of contact with the Unseen to 
which I turn has much more immediate connection 
with religion, as we understand that word. Though 
Ibn Khaldun has, from time to time, been com- 
pelled to make mention of the Jinn, he has no section 
dealing explicitly with them; on them he never 
relieves his mind. The simple reason is that he 
could not: that his views on them were too far from 
those of the Muslim world to be stated in such a 
book as he was writing. He accepted the great fact 
of the institution of prophecy; he accepted the 
personal mission of Muhammad and the authority 
of the book revealed through him, because he also 
felt compelled to accept man's absolute depend- 
ence on God, and to admit that the researches, the 
reasonings, and the systems of the philosophers had 
been a failure. Viewing life from the side of reason 
he was an agnostic ; by that path the ultimate realities 
could not be reached. But the reason is not the only 
pathway to reality, and is only one side of man's 
nature. On another side, that of the life of the soul, 
man came forth from God and can still have contact 
with God. This has already been made plain, again 
and again. Nor is it peculiar in the slightest to Ibn 



Khaldun. He derived it from al-Ghazzall; he was a 
convinced Ghazzalian. 

And so, too, were the rest of Islam. This, which 
some might compare with the pragmatic or human- 
istic position to which many of us have drifted in 
these last years, is the standard attitude of Islam 
toward the problem of religion and metaphysics. 
All metaphysical systems have failed and must fail. 
The thinkers of Islam had been through them all, 
and had come out with empty hands. Reason, how- 
ever subtle, could find no means of passing from 
"me" to "thee," from the effect to the cause. But 
the soul of man could go out from the body in 
many ways; could meet the outstretched help of 
God and therein find peace and rest. It is true that 
the soul, when it returned, must translate its message 
in terms of human experience; the veil of the 
senses, in which the body clothed it, required that. 
But the message was delivered, however its garb 
might vary; so much man could know with absolute 

Starting from this position, then, Ibn Khaldun 
looked out on the world with all its varied, changing 
phenomena, and tried to interpret and realize it in 
terms of these ideas. It seemed to him that the 
pieces of the puzzle fell together of themselves. All 
through the world he found this reaching and 
groaning of the soul after its source. As the Chris- 
tian church speaks of the fullness of time, so he felt 


that all these yearnings led up to the final revelation 
in Muhammad. That revelation, then, in the 
Qur'dn he had to interpret again to himself in terms 
of the phenomena around him. 

And he succeeded in great part. He found in life 
corresponding phenomena for everything in the 
Qur'an except the individual personal spirits, the 
angels and the Jinn. Of such things he had had 
no experience and, therefore, to these words he 
could attach no ideas. The spiritual world, in the 
broad, he knew, but not personalities therein. In 
all this to which we have now come, you will remem- 
ber, that Ibn Khaldun stands by himself. No other 
Muslim ever looked with such clear, untroubled 
vision at the facts of life, reckoned with them all, 
and tried to rationalize them all, as did he. So he 
had never known angels and, it is plain, had had no 
personal experience of the Jinn. Soothsayers and 
magicians he had known, tested, and accepted; he 
had had dreams and found' them valid; of the 
miracles of the saints he was firmly convinced; 
but he had never seen any of the Jinn, and so he 
blocked them out from his reckoning. 

Only in one passage in his book, and that, too, 
as we have seen already, occurring only in a few 
MSS and apparently added as an afterthought, does 
he speak of them. There, 1 he puts the verses of 

' De Slane's translation, Vol. Ill, p. 68; the passage fa not 
in the Balaq or Beyrout texts. 


the Qufdn which mention them in the "obscure" 
(mutashdbih) class. All Qufdn verses are divided 
into "clear" (muhkam) and "obscure;" a division 
which delivers Muslims from the difficulties of the 
doctrine of inspiration, much as do our human and 
divine elements in the Scriptures. Naturally, theolo- 
gians are little agreed as to what the true "obscure" 
verses are, and reckon in that class those which 
their systems find hard to digest. 

But Ibn Khaldun, in thus, out of his respect for 
facts, disregarding the Jinn entirely, was really ignor- 
ing one of the most primitive sources of old Arab- 
bian religion. The Jinn were the nymphs and 
satyrs of the desert; all wild, solitary nature was 
full of them; in a sense they typified that side of the 
life of nature which was still unsubdued and still 
hostile to man. They were in constant connection 
with wild animals and often appeared in animal 
forms. Whether they were originally animal fetiches 
and what their relation was to totemism we need not 
here consider. Our subject does not reach so far 
back. But the difference between them and the 
primitive Semitic gods, as Robertson Smith well 
puts it, 1 is simply that the gods have worshipers, 
and they have not. That means that the gods have 
entered into fixed, personal relations with men, are 
no longer hostile, and dwell in sanctuaries that are 
no longer dangerous, though, it may be, awful. 

« Religion oj the Semites', p. tai. 


Robertson Smith thus goes on, in what is a locus 
classicus for our subject: 

In fact the earth may be said to be parceled out between 
demons and wild beasts on the one hand, and gods and men 
on the other. To the former belong the untrodden wilderness 
with all its unknown perils, the wastes and jungles that lie 
outside the familiar tracks and pasture grounds of the tribe, 
and which only the boldest men venture upon without terror; 
to the latter belong the regions that man knows and habitually 
frequents, and within which he has established relations, not 
only with his human neighbors, but with the supernatural 
beings that have their haunts side by side with him. And as 
man gradually encroaches on the wilderness and drives back 
the wild beasts before him, so the gods in like manner drive 
out the demons, and spots that were once feared, as the habi- 
tation of mysterious and presumably malignant powers, lose 
their terrors and either become common ground or are trans- 
formed into the seats of friendly deities. From this point of 
view, the recognition of certain spots as haunts of the gods is the 
religious expression of the gradual subjugation of nature by man. 

But when we reach Muhammad's time, the situa- 
tion has greatly cleared and simplified. No essential 
connection remained between the Jinn and wild 
beasts. They had become spirits with some curious 
animal associations. For example, they appeared 
riding upon animals, as, in another connection, they 
were accompanied by manifestations of light. The 
heathen Meccans associated them with Allah as 
his sons and daughters, or they were made partners 
with Allah. 1 They also, as we have seen, inspired 

'Qur. vi, too. 


the kdhins and poets, and Muhammad was said 
to be possessed by one. In a word, they fur- 
nished for the Arabs their general background of 
the supernatural, out of which rose pre-eminently 
Allah, and less eminently but more intimately to 
the hearts of the worshipers, the various tribal gods. 
Allah, Muhammad accepted and made the one, only 
God. The Jinn remained for him real, rational 
beings, but the creation of Allah and under his rule. 
How he conceived their relations to the angels, the 
messengers of Allah, on the one hand, and to the 
devils, especially to Iblls, <> &a/3o\o? — an effect 
from Judaism and Christianity — on the other, is 
obscure because of his own uncertainty and lack of 
decision. Certain it is that for him the two salvable 
races on earth were the Jinn and mankind, these 
two before Allah were on exactly the same footing. 
To the Jinn, then, he must proclaim Islam as he 
did to mankind. And that was done. In chap, 
lxxii of the Qur>an we read the words of Allah to 
Muhammad, revealing that this had taken place, 
and telling him to inform the people of it: 

Say [O Muhammad], "It has been revealed to me that a 
small company of the Jinn listened, then said, 'We have 
heard a wondrous Qur'&n [or recitation], guiding to right; 
so we believe in it and we certainly will not join any as a 
companion to our Lord.' " 

The revelation goes on to give the confession of 
faith made then by these Jinn, and introduces inci- 


dentally some points which interest us as showing 
how the heathen Arabs regarded the Jinn. Men, 
under certain conditions, "sought refuge" with the 
Jinn. That is, invoked their help and protection. 
The Jinn used to ascend to heaven and listen there 
in order to learn what was decreed by God. " Now," 
they said, "whoever listens finds there for him a 
shooting-star waiting." The angels hurled these at 
them to drive them off. 

In chap, xlvi, 28 ff., mention is again made how a 
small company of the Jinn gathered to hear the 
Prophet and then dispersed to carry the message to 
their brethren. There are many other references 
in the Qur'an to the Jinn, all accepting quite simply 
their existence as a race on earth beside that of the 
Sons of Adam; the phrase, " the Jinn and mankind," 
occurs again and again. With them, as I have 
already said, Iblis, 6 SidfioXos, is curiously confused; 
sometimes being reckoned a fallen angel, and some- 
times one of them. Several times we are told that 
he refused to prostrate himself to Adam when the 
other angels did so. In one of these passages 
(xxxviii) he is explicitly said to be one of the Jinn, 
and mankind is asked, " Do ye then take him and 
his seed as patrons (awliya) instead of me?" This 
is an allusion to the semi-worship of the Jinn by the 
heathen Arabs. 

So far, then, the Qur>8,n. But these references, 
though plain, do not carry us very far. Muhammad 


is either artistically or really modest in his claims. 
The great controversy among Muslim theologians, 
as to whether Muhammad ever really saw the 
Jinn, must be decided in the negative. The Qufan 
is explicit that all this was a revelation to him from 
Allah. But tradition has not been content with 
that, and the fixed belief of the enormous majority 
of the Muslim church is that he had divers direct 
interviews, face to face, with these spirits. Some 
are most picturesquely told, with details suggesting 
western magic. 

I choose one, not because of its superior historicity 
— for all are equally unhistorical — but because of 
its detail, which commended it to the later Muslim 
imagination and makes it more representative for 
us. It is put in the mouth of az-Zubayr ibn al- 
c Awwam, one of the earliest of the believers, and 
one also of the ten who were personally promised 
by the Prophet that they would enter the Garden: 

One day the Prophet prayed the morning prayer with us in 
the mosque of al-Madlna. Then, when he had finished, he 
said, "Which of you will follow me to a deputation of the 
Jinn tonight?" But the people kept silence and none said 
anything. He said it three times; then he walked past me 
and took me by the hand, and I walked with him until all 
the mountains of al-Madina were distant from us and we 
had reached the open country. And there were men, tall 
as lances, wrapped completely in their mantles from their 
feet up. When I saw them a great quivering seized upon 
me, until my feet would hardly support me from fear. 
When we came near to them the Prophet drew with his great 


toe a line for me on the ground and said, "Sit in the 
middle of that." Then when I had sat down, all fear which 
I had felt departed from me. And the Prophet passed 
between me and them and recited the Qur^an in a loud voice 
until the dawn broke. Then he came past me and said, 
"Take hold of me." So I walked with him, and we went a 
little distance. Then he said to me, "Turn and look; dost 
thou see any one where these were?" I turned and said, 
"O Apostle of God, I see much blackness!" He bent his 
head to the ground and looked at a bone and a piece of dung, 
and cast them to them. Thereafter he said, "These are a 
deputation of the Jinn of Naslbin; they asked of me traveling 
provender; so I appointed for them all bones and pieces of 

This end is rather puzzling but it seems to occur 
in all the stories of this kind. I take it that it is 
an attempt to explain a part of the ritual law dealing 
with purification. 1 In one form it runs: 

The Prophet said to them [the Jinn], "Yours is every bone 
over which the name of God has been spoken; ye shall take it 
and it shall be in your hands the richest possible in flesh; and 
dung shall be provender for your beasts." Then he said [to 
his followers], "So do not use these.two things for purifying; 
they are the food of your brethren." 

Of these legends there are curious later echoes. 
Stories came down of Muslims who saw Jinn or 
heard their voices, and learned from them that they 
had taken part in these famous deputations to Mu- 
hammad. There is a long tale, too, of one aged 
Jinni who met Muhammad and professed Islam. 

' Cf. al-Bajurl on Ilm Q&sim, Vol. I, p. 63, ft-l-istinjd; edition 
of Cairo, A. h. 1307. 


He had lived in the days when Cain slew Abel, and 
had known all the prophets from that time on. 
Jesus had commissioned him to greet Muhammad 
if he lived into his time. 

But this whole matter is far too vast for me to enter 
into it in detail. I will here attempt only some bits 
of personal experience, and the like, which may 
make living for you the conception in the broad. 1 

That the Muslim law in its entirety is binding on 
the believing Jinn is accepted as certain. Whether 
they have had prophets of their own kind is uncer- 
tain, but not that Muhammad was a prophet to them. 
That they will enter the Garden and be rewarded 
therein is almost unanimously accepted. Iblis him- 
self, of course, is an unbeliever but differing grounds 
are given for his being so reckoned. He is also the 
supreme tempter of men and is conceived of as 
setting his wits against Allah to seduce from him his 
creation. He brought about the Fall, but it, in Islam, 
is an historical event only, without theological con- 
sequences. Still, traces remain of a doctrine of 
original sin. The following story is strikingly to that 

1 Cf., on the whole subject, Lane, Arabian Nights, Vol. I, 
note 21 to the Introduction, and the Arabian Nights themselves 
passim; Lane, Modern Egyptians, chap, x; also Ad-Damirt's 
Haydt al-Hayawdn, .... translated from the Arabic by 
A. S. G. Jayakar, London, 1906, Vol. I, pp. 448 ff.; for heathen 
Arabia see Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites; Wellhausen. 
Reste; Goldziher, Arabische Philologie, and articles by Van 
Vloten in the Wiener Zeitschrijt jilr die Kunde des Morgenlandes, 


purpose, but I have been unable to find it in Arabic. 
I give it in E. J. W. Gibb's translation from the 
Turkish : 

From that time when Satan was cursed and driven from 
Paradise by reason of Adam (peace on him!) he pursued him 
with hatred and sought to take vengeance. He had a son 
named Khannas; and he made him assume the form of a kid, 
and took him before our mother Eve, and said, "Let this kid 
remain by thee; I shall come now and fetch it." Eve said, 
"By reason of thee have we come forth from Paradise; art 
thou come now again?" Satan replied, "If they drove 
you from Paradise, they have driven me thence, too; one must 
pass from the past." And he left the kid and went off. 
Saint Adam came and saw the kid, and he said, "Whose kid 
is this?" Eve answered, "Satan has left it, and has gone off." 
He said, "I will come now and fetch it." Saint Adam (peace 
on him!) was wroth, and he killed the kid, and threw it into 
the desert and went away. Satan came and said, "Where 
is the kid?" Eve said, "Adam came and killed the kid, 
and threw it into the desert." Satan cried out, "Khannas!" 
The kid said, "Here I am, father." And it became alive and 
went up to him. Again Satan left it, and went off; for though 
Eve entreated him, saying, "Take it, and go," he would not 
take it. Saint Adam came and saw the kid, and asked about 
it, and Eve told him what had happened. Adam said, "Why 
didst thou keep that accursed one's kid?" And he was 
angry with Eve; and he cut the kid into many pieces, and 
threw each piece in a different direction, and went away. 
Again Satan came and asked, and Eve told him what had 
happened. Again Satan cried, "O Khannas!" And it 
answered, "Here I am, father." And it became alive and 
went up to him. Again Satan left it and went off; and 
though Eve said many times, "Leave it not," it was of no 


avail, for Satan vanished. Again Adam came and saw the 
kid, and this time he smote Eve; and people have beaten 
their wives since that time. Adam seized the kid, and cut 
its throat, and cooked it, and he and Eve ate it; then he went 
away. Again Satan came and asked, "Where is the kid?" 
Eve said, "This time was Adam wroth, and he cut its throat, 
and cooked it, and we both of us ate it." Satan again cried, 
"O Khannas!" This time it answered from Eve's belly, 
"Here I am, father." Satan said, "My son, thou hast found 
thy best place; let us tempt the sons of Adam, thou from 
within, and I from without, till the resurrection, and urge 
them to many sins, and make them deserving of hell." 1 

But in one respect the Muslim Iblis differed 
markedly from the Devil of mediaeval Europe. He 
was lost hopelessly — that was accepted — but then he 
was also the father of all the Jinn, believing and un- 
believing. There was, therefore, with all his strata- 
gems to mislead men, a kindly side to his nature. He 
was not simply stupid as in European devil-lore; he 
was also humorous. Often in the Arabian Nights 
he plays this double part; showing himself most 
interested, friendly, and amusing, while the other 
characters in the tale scrupulously refer to him as 
"Iblis the Accursed." Outstanding examples are in 
the Story 0} Sul and Shumul, recently published and 
translated by Seybold,' and in the "Story of Harun 
ar-Rashld and Tuhfat al-Qulub. 3 

1 History 0) the Forty Vezirs, p. 348. 
' Leipzig, 1902. 

3 Payne, Tales from the Arabic, Vol. II, p. 203; Burton, 
Vol. IX, p. 291, of 12 vol. edit. 


From many of these, as for example, " The Story 
of Abdullah and his Brothers," 1 it is plain that the 
popular imagination had brought Harun ar-Rashld 
into close relationships with the Jinn. By his 
strict piety and exact observance of his religious 
duties — this sounds very curious, but Harun was 
pious in his way — joined to his position as successor 
of Muhammad, commander of the faithful and 
representative of Allah on earth, he had complete 
control, supernatural and natural, of both Jinn and 
mankind. The Jinn added to his wealth, taught 
songs and airs to his court poets and musicians, and 
took the oath of fidelity to his proclaimed successor. 
For the last point, we have better authority than 
the Arabian Nights. Ibn Khallikan tells us of it 
in connection with a certain poet, who was the 
intermediary.* To this poet Harun is reported to 
have said, " If thou hast seen what thou tellest, thou 
hast seen marvels; if not, thou hast composed a 
wonder." This must not be taken as implying 
doubt of the existence of the Jinn; that were heresy 
of the worst. The doubt was only of his having had 
intercourse with them; for it was a much contested 
point whether any men except prophets could see 
them. Some few lawyers laid it down flatly that 
any man who claimed to have seen them was not 
fit to be a legal witness; he had showed himself 

■ Payne, Arabian Nights, Vol. IX; Burton, Vol. VII, p. 364. 
» Dc Slane's translation, Vol. HI, p. 373; WUsUnjeld, No. 735. 


impious in claiming what the law did not admit. 
More curious still is a Berber story in which Harun 
actually marries a female Jinni. I know it only by 
reference. 1 

Around the possibility of marriagebetween mankind 
and the Jinn an immense literature has gathered. 
The general position is that such marriages have 
frequently taken place and are lawful; some few 
canon lawyers, however, deny their legality on qur'- 
anic grounds. 4 According to the present code of 
Ottoman law, following the school of Abu Hanifa, 
such marriages are illegal;* one reason alleged is 
because a Jinni may appear in either sex. But these 
legal doubts the broad belief of the Muslim people 
laughs to scorn. Probably every Muslim has heard 
of or been in some relation to some man or other, 
who was known to have married a female Jinni. So 
Lane, during his residence at Cairo, had a Persian 
acquaintance who told him of a friend of his own, 
who had had such an experience. 4 The idea has 
also often served to cover an intrigue. A good 
example of this, in Alexandria, in the middle of the 
last century, is to be found in Bayle St. John's Two 
Years in a Levantine Family (chap. xxiv). But 
from the earliest Muslim times such stories were 

■ Chauvin, Bibliographie arabe, Vol. VI, p. 48. 

» Qur. xvi, 74; xl, 9. 

J Young, Corps de droit Ottoman, Vol. II, pp. 210, 215. 

* Arabian Nights, Vol. I, chap, i, note 25. 


current, and had become a lieu commune in romance. 
The book called Al-Fihrist, a catalogue raisonni of 
Arabic literature of about iooo A. d., gives a separate 
section to "Names of Those of Mankind Who 
Loved the Jinn and Vice-versa." It is really sixteen 
titles of books of their love stories. Similarly, in the 
numerous collections of love stories there are chap- 
ters given to "Lovers of the Jinn." 

Another fertile aspect of this subject is the relation 
between saints and the Jinn. As Muslim saints live 
more or less in contact with the unseen world all the 
time, that relation of necessity is close. Of course, 
we must distinguish between necessarily apocryphal 
stories and those which have vraisemblance, at least; 
although both, for our purpose, are of value. A 
story with every appearance of truth is that which 
al-Ghazzall tells of his own attempt at spirit-seeing. 
I may say of him that one of his characteristics is 
extreme modesty in his claims to contact with the 
Unseen. He had visions of insight into spiritual 
truth, but he never felt that he had reached the same 
degree of closeness to the divine as some of his con- 
temporaries, and he always declared that he had 
never been able to work miracles. This story, then, 
bears these characteristic marks of modesty. He 
applied to a celebrated evoker of the Jinn, Muham- 
mad ibn Ahmad at-Tabasi — an older contemporary 
of his own, who died in A. H. 482, when al-Ghazzali 
was thirty-two years of age — requesting that he 


would bring about a meeting between himself and 
some of the Jinn. To that he consented, and al- 
Ghazzall says, " I saw them like a shadow on a wall. 
Then I said to him that I would like to talk with 
them and hear their speech, but he said, 'You are 
not able to see more of them than this.' " z Not a 
very satisfactory case, except as showing al-Ghazzalf s 
truthfulness. The magician, apparently, had made 
only so much preparation. 

Another very different story, a legend with large 
elements of folk-lore in it, is told of c Abd al-Qadir who died in 1166, A. D., the founder of the 
Qadirite fraternity of darwishes. Around him an 
immense accumulation of myth has collected, and to 
that the following evidently belongs. I do not mean 
to suggest that all the marvels of c Abd al-Qadir's 
life are necessarily mythical. The levitations, for 
example, told of him have far too many analogues 
elsewhere to be ruled so easily out of court. The 
story runs thus: 

One of the people of Baghdad came to him and told him 
that a maiden daughter of his had been snatched away from 
the roof of the house. "Go," said the shaykh, "this night 
to the ruined part of al-Karkh [a district of Baghdad] and sit 
beside the fifth mound and draw a circle on the ground and 
say, as thou drawest it, 'In the name of Allah; according 
to the intention of c Abd al-Qadir.' " [I presume he meant, as 
though <Abd al-Qadir had drawn this line.] "Then, when 
the black of the night has come, there will pass by thee troops 

1 Al-Qazwlni, Vol. II, p. 272, (Wustenfeld's edition). 


of the Jinn in different forms, but let not their appearance 
terrify thee. And when the dawn comes, there will pass by 
thee their king in an army of them. He will ask thee of thy 
need; so say, 'Abd al-Qadir hath sent me to thee,' and tell 
him the case of thy daughter." The man did so. "It was" 
he told thereafter, "as the shaykh had said. Not one of the 
Jinn was able to pass the circle in which I was. They kept 
going by in bands, until their king came, riding on a horse, and 
before him [whole] nations of them. He stopped over against 
the circle and said, 'O human being, what is thy need?' 
I said, 'The shaykh, c Abd al-Qadir, hath sent me to thee.' 
Then he alighted from his horse and kissed the ground and 
sat just outside of the circle; and those sat who were with him. 
Then he said, 'What is thy affair?' and I told him the story 
of my daughter. He said to those around him, 'Bring me 
him who hath done this!' and they brought an evil Jinni and 
my daughter with him. He was told, 'This is one of the evil 
Jinn of China.' Then he said, 'What led thee to snatch one 
away from under the stirrups of the Qutb [the chief of all the 
saints of Allah] ?' 'She pleased me,' said the evil Jinni. So 
he gave orders, and the head of the evil Jinni was struck off, 
and he gave me back my daughter.'" 

This, you will observe, is exactly the same as the 
nocturnal procession of the demons with Pluto, their 
king, which we meet in European folk-lore. The 
part of the magician is taken by the head, for the 
time, of all the saints of Allah. Ex officio, he has 
absolute control over the Jinn. 

Around Ibn c Arabi, another great saint and mystic 
of later times, who died in 1240 A. D., similar tales 
have gathered. He wrote an account of all who had 

• Damlrl, Vol. I, p. 185, edition of Cairo, a. h. 1313. 


been his teachers, of the Jinn and mankind and 
angels and beasts. In that account he tells the 
following story as a rebuke of his pride; it is evi- 
dently told in earnest, though it may seem rather 
humorous to us. One time he was in a ship on the 
great sea. The wind blew, and a storm arose. 
But he cried out to the sea, "Be still, for a sea of 
learning is upon thee!" Then a sea monster raised 
its head and said to him, "We have heard thy saying. 
What do you say to this case of law ? If the hus- 
band of a wife be ensorcelled and transformed, must 
she wait, before remarrying, the period of a widow, 
or of a divorced woman [literally the waiting period 
of the dead or of the living]?" But Ibn c ArabI, 
for all that he was a sea of learning, could not tell. 
So the sea-monster said, "Make me one of thy 
teachers, and I will tell thee." Ibn c ArabI accepted, 
and the sea-monster said, "If he is transformed 
into a beast, then she must wait the period of 
a divorced woman; and if into a stone, that of a 
widow." 1 

But an evident jest is the following: A certain 
shaykh had been asked about Ibn c ArabI. He 
replied with emphasis, "An evil shaykh, a liar!" 
" A liar, too ? " someone said to him. " Yes, indeed," 
he said. "We were discussing, once, marriage with 
the Jinn, and he said, ' The Jinn are fine spirits and 
mankind are coarse bodies; how can they come 

■ Sha'ranl, Lawdqifr, p. 284, edition of Cairo, A. h. 1308. 


together ?' Then he was away from us for a time, 
and came back with a bruise on his head. We asked 
him whence it was. He said, ' I married a woman 
of the Jinn, and we had some trouble, and she hit 
me this bruise!' " The original teller of the story 
adds, "I don't think this was a deliberate lie on Ibn 
c Arabi's part; it was simply one of the jesting stories 
current among those of the spiritual life." 1 

Another saint who had large dealings with the 
Jinn was ash-Sha c ram, a Cairene mystic, who died 
in 1565. He was a very remarkable man, and a 
union of the most opposite characteristics. He was 
a canon lawyer of originality and keenness; one of 
the very few creative minds in law after the first 
three centuries. He was a moralist, touched with 
high ethical indignation. Unlike most of the learned 
of Islam, he sought and found his own among the 
oppressed common people. He was a mystic who 
lived from day to day in constant touch with the 
Unseen ; the spirit world was as near and real to him 
as the walls of the classroom in which he taught, or 
of the mosque in which he worshiped. In the night 
time, there came dreams to him, or else, when he 
waked, a voice would sound in his ears ; a halt], as 
they called such wandering utterances, would warn 
or admonish him. Of these the records of Islam 
are full, but in no case so full as in his. Naturally, 
intercourse with the Jinn was not lacking. They 

■ Damlrf, Vol. I, p. 185. 


used to seek his judgment, as a jurisconsult of 
standing. Once a JinnI in the form of a dog ran in 
at his house door with a piece of European paper in 
his mouth, on which certain theological questions 
were written. Ash-Sha c rani replied by writing a 
book, still extant, on them. 

It should be understood, then, that just as among 
men there are ascetics and devotees, so, too, among 
the Jinn. In deserts and solitary places, men have 
often heard their voices in pious exclamation or 
prayer; of such the records of the saints are full. 
And just as they taught men, so men taught them. 
The great shaykhs had disciples of the Jinn as of 
mankind. Here is something upon that, from a 
most valuable and interesting book, consisting of 
translations of passages from the lives of the great 
saints of Morocco : x 

"I once happened upon the shaikh Aboo'l Hasan," he 
[shaikh Muhammad the Andalusee] said, "and he was sitting 
in the midst of a plantation, of which he was the owner, and 
around him sat a company of the Jinn who believed, to whom 
he was teaching the beautiful names of God. 

"On seeing me, he looked up and asked: 'Has the matter 
concerning these been revealed to thee?' 

"I replied that it had been revealed. 'These,' he went on, 
'are in search of that which thou art in search of — meaning 
that they, too, were seekers after the Truth." 

Andalusee used also to say: "There was not in all Morocco, 
nor in any part of it, neither in any land, the like of the shaikh 

« T. H. Weir, The Shaikhs oj Morocco, p. 121. Mr. Weir's 
method of representing Arabic words in English is preserved here. 


Aboo'l Hasan, the son of Aboo'l Kasim in his time. He had 
as followers upward of seventy thousand of the jinn; and 
when he died, they were scattered into all quarters of the 
earth, but none of them ever found again a teacher like him." 
"I had made friends with four of these jinn," he continued, 
"and once I asked one of the four, who was the best-read of 
all, which of the plants, in their opinion, afforded the most 
useful drugs for the purposes of medicine, so as to cure all 
maladies. 'There is not one among all plants,' replied the 
jinnee, 'more generally useful than the caper; for it unites 
in itself qualities which are found only separate in other 
plants; and if the men-folk but knew all that is in it, they 
would not wish for any other.' '" 

But to all, this matter was not so simple. The 
Jinn might be spoken of in the Qufan, and many 
might have seen them and had speech with them, 
but others had no such good fortunes. Al-Ghazza.ll, 
as we have seen, had but indifferent success in his 
attempt to reach them, and Ibn Khaldun seems to 
have had none at all. These, however, were believ- 
ing men, and either accepted the traditions and the 
testimony of others, or held their place. But there 
were some who were no great believers, and who had 
to settle the existence of the Jinn on other than 
religious grounds. Many of the Mu c tazilites seem 
in general to have rejected them; how these dealt 
with the qur'anic passages I do not know. They 
must have explained them away in some fashion, as 

1 Compare the folk-lore stories of fairy changelings and the 
like who would say, " If men but knew the value of this or that" 
(some despised thing). 


they were only heretics and not unbelievers. It is 
certain that they were of varying opinions on the 

But the philosophers were in different case. Al- 
Farabl, who died in 950, was a Plotinian and an 
Aristotelian, but managed, being also a mystic, to 
remain a devout Muslim. His only trouble, then, 
was to discover a philosophical definition, and so 
get them into his system. The ordinary definition 
was, "Airy bodies capable of assuming different 
forms, possessed of reason and understanding, and 
able to perform hard labors." 1 But there was a 
doubt on the point of reason ( c aql). For example, 
in the "Story of the Fisherman and the Jinni," in 
the Arabian Nights, the fisherman says to himself 
in some texts, 2 "This is a Jinni, and I am a human 
being, and Allah has given to me reason and made 
me more excellent than him, and lo! I contrive 
against him with my reason, and he contrives against 
me with his Jinn-mind (bi-jinnihi?)." 

This distinction al-Farabl laid hold of, and he con- 
structed the following definitions: Man is a living 
being, rational, mortal; the angels are the same, 
rational, immortal ; brute beasts the same, irrational, 
mortal; the Jinn, then, to fill out the analogy, are 
living beings, irrational, immortal. But the Qur'dn 
speaks of them as hearing and speaking; must they 

« DamM, Vol. I, p. 177. 

• Galland; Brcslau; I Calcutta. 


not, then, be rational? Al-Farabl denies that. 
Speech and verbal utterance may be found in any 
living being, qua living being; they are different from 
that power of distinguishing, which is reason. The 
speech of man is natural to him, qua living being; 
but his speech is different from that of other kinds of 
living beings; each kind has its own speech. He 
might further have defended himself with the popu- 
lar belief that the speech of the Jinn is a kind of 
whistling; that is why it is unlucky to whistle in the 
Muhammadan East. But the truth evidently is that 
he was simply hard pressed. 1 His argument from 
classification is of a type common in Arabic and is 
based essentially on a realistic philosophy. 

Avicenna (died 1037) avoided such subjects as far 
as he could, but his system had certainly no place 
for the Jinn. Yet once, in giving a series of defini- 
tions of things, he defined "Jinn," "Airy animals 
capable of changing themselves into different forms," 
but added, "This is an explanation of the name 
(or noun)," meaning evidently that the thing had no 
real existence; he, in this, was a nominalist' 

Farther with the philosophers we need not go; 
they practically had no effect on the views of the vast 
body of Muslims. Islam believes to this day in the 
Jinn not only among the vulgar but as an essential 
part of the faith. In the Azhar University at Cairo, 

1 Dieterici, Al/arabi's philos. Abhandl. herausg., p. 84. 
» R4zl, Maj&tlh al-ghayh, SOra lxxii, beginning. 


the legal textbooks still consider the vexed question 
of the marriage of men and Jinn; e. g., al-Bajuri's 
great commentary on Ibn Qasim's commentary on 
Abu Shuja's handbook of Shafi c ite law, Vol. II, 
pp. 113, 186, 187. We have already seen the same 
in the Ottoman code. So, too, is Lane's testimony 
for modern Cairo. Professor E. G. Browne, in his 
Year among the Persians, has a curious narrative 
of a friend of his, a certain unbelieving philosopher 
of Ispahan, who had twice gone through the training 
incumbent upon those who wish to gain control 
over the Jinn: 

The seeker after this power [said he] chooses some solitary 
and dismal spot, such as the Hazir-Dere - at Isfahan (the place 
selected by me). There he must remain for forty days, 
which period of retirement we call chilli. He spends the 
greater part of this time in incantations in the Arabic language, 
which he recites within the area of the mandal, or geometric 
figure, which he must describe in a certain way on the ground. 
Besides this, he must eat very little food, and diminish the 
amount daily. If he has faithfully observed all these details. 
on the twenty-first day a lion will appear, and will enter the 
magic circle. The operator must not allow himself to be 
terrified by this apparition, and, above all, must on no account 
quit the mandal, else he will lose the result of all his pains. 
If he resists the lion, other terrible forms will come to him on 
subsequent days — tigers, dragons, and the like — which he 
must similarly withstand. If he holds his ground till the 
fortieth day, he has attained his object, and the jinnls, having 
been unable to get the mastery over him, will have to become 
his servants "and obey all his behests. Well, I faithfully 
observed all the necessary conditions, and on the twenty- 


first day, sure enough, a lion appeared and entered the circle. 
I was horribly frightened, but all the same I stood my ground, 
although I came near to fainting with terror. Next day, a 
tiger came, and still I succeeded in resisting the impulse which 
urged me to flee. But when, on the following day, a most 
hideous and frightful dragon appeared, I could no longer 
control my terror, and rushed from the circle, renouncing 
all further attempts at obtaining the mastery over the jinnis. 
When some time had elapsed after this, and I had pursued 
my studies in philosophy further, I came to the conclusion 
that I had been the victim of hallucinations, excited by 
expectation, solitude, hunger, and long vigils, and, with a 
view to testing this hypothesis, I again repeated the same pro- 
cess which I had before practiced, this time in a spirit of 
philosophical incredulity. My expectations were justified; 
I saw absolutely nothing. And there is another fact which 
proves to my mind that the phantoms I saw on the first 
occasion had no existence outside of my own brain. I had 
never seen a real lion then, and my ideas about the appearance 
of that animal were entirely derived from the pictures which, 
may be seen over the doors of baths in this country. Now 
the lion which I saw in the magic circle was exactly like the 
latter in form and coloring, and, therefore, as I need hardly 
say, differed considerably in aspect from a real lion. 

So far this philosopher of Isfahan, as reported 
by Professor Browne. But you already know, from 
Ibn Khaldun and al-Ghazzali, that the spectres which 
appear to the would-be magician must be forms that 
he already knows. They are ideas — true ideas — 
which his memory and imagination clothe in corre- 
sponding appearances. Thus the idea "lion " would 
necessarily assume the form of a bath-house picture 


The most remarkable narrative of all, however, is 
given by Bayle St. John in his Two Years in a Levan- 
tine Family (chap. xx). The house in which he 
lived with his "family" was haunted by a ghost, 
an Hfrit; ghosts now are called Hfrlts, which means 
strictly an evil kind of Jinnl. This ghost was the 
spirit of a deceased previous owner, who was sup- 
posed to have buried his money in the house, and in 
consequence had to guard it. The Levantine family 
had seen him, from time to time for thirteen years, 
and now took no notice of him. He never meddled 
with them, and they had become accustomed to his 
prowling about, and appearing and disappearing. 
Also, he had always the same appearance, and this 
had often been described to St. John. Then sud- 
denly, one day, in broad daylight, he, himself, saw 
this shaykh, as he was called, with perfect clearness. 
Twice, thereafter, he saw him again, but the third 
appearance, the most circumstantial, is invalidated 
as evidence by occurring during an attack of fever. 
It is curious that the first two experiences agree pre- 
cisely in type with the cases of "haunting ghosts" 
collected by the Society for Psychical Research and 
are utterly different from the loquacious, meddlesome 
ghosts of literature, eastern and western. For these 
two St.'John could find no explanation. Nor do I 
think will you be able to, if you read his careful 
narrative. I can make only one suggestion. It is 
incredible to me that there should be absolutely no 


foundation for the unbroken belief of the East in these 
spirits. There must be some phenomena behind it. 
Is it possible to explain it as a result of auto-hyp- 
nosis — that the whole people are more or less under 
this hypnotic suggestion? It is conceivable, then, 
that St. John, living for long in such an environment, 
would come at last under the same suggestion. 1 
It is certain that Europeans who have long lived in 
the East, and adapted themselves to eastern ways, 
come in time to be orientalized in their attitudes 
and ideas. Sometimes, this reaches a, for us, dis- 
gusting point; at others, it is only the possibilities 
of the unseen world which are marvelously widened. 

1 Cf. the case of the haunting of the old house in St. Swithin's 
Lane, London {Proceedings of Society for Psychical Research, 
Vol. Ill, pp. 126 ff.), and the gradual extension of the hallucina- 
tion (veridical or otherwise) to Mr. Votas-Simpson himself. 



It may be well for us now to look back to our 
starting-point, see how far we have come, and what 
journey lies still before us. You will remember that 
in our subject — the religious attitude and life, as 
developed in Islam — I found three essential ele- 
ments; (i) the reality of the Unseen, as a background 
to life unattainable to our physical senses ;. (2) 
man's relation to this Unseen, as to faith and insight 
therein: the whole emotional religious life; (3) the 
discipline of the traveler on his way to such direct 
knowledge of the divine and during his life in it. 

The first of these, the tremendous reality and 
nearness for the Muslim of the unseen world must 
now be tolerably clear to you. You will have 
observed, also, the different processes by which the 
Muslim endeavors to construct connections between 
his own life and that Unseen, his metaphysical 
scheme in the exact sense. Of necessity that will 
appear to you very unmetaphysical in the ordinary 
sense, full of bizarre concretenesses and materialisms. 
But that hangs from the nature of the case. 1 
should like to put before you an ontology full of the 
most beautiful abstractions, leaving you gasping in 



an over-rarified atmosphere, but my sources will 
not permit it. Even the Aristotelian philoso- 
phers of Islam had their system of spheres, with 
therein dominating intelligences; it was left for 
Occam to lay down the final law, "We must not 
multiply beings without reason." 

But among these pathways to the Unseen, I have 
not yet put formally before you that trodden by the 
saints, by those men who, in the beauty of holiness, 
have gained immediate vision of divine things and 
whose lives, in consequence, are permeated with the 
divine light and energy. Allusion has been made to 
them, again and again, and the Muslim conception 
of them as a class is already, in general terms, before 
you. In all strictness I should now consider the 
phenomena of sainthood as one of the avenues 
of approach to the Unseen, one of the cracks in the 
shell, before passing on to our second element, the 
emotional religious life in general. I venture, how- 
ever, to combine the two, and will now take up the 
psychological-religious element of man's relation to 
the Unseen as to faith and insight therein. 

Practically, we come now to an investigation of 
sainthood as practiced in Islam. This does not 
limit our subject as the word saint might suggest. 
There are saints of all degrees in Islam, and saintship 
is not the rare phenomenon of our associations. 
Externally, through an elaborate hierarchy rising to a 
single spiritual head, and internally, through a multi- 


tude of brethren of varying spiritual illumination and 
powers, every pious Muslim looks up a path to God 
and knows his place in it. This institution, exter- 
nally and internally, as an organization and as a life, 
is of the highest interest as a force in Islam; but 
I can notice it now only most inadequately. Our 
subject, in strictness, is the emotional life of the 

So much, at least, must be said. From the earliest 
times there was an element in the Muslim church 
which was repelled equally by traditional teaching 
and by intellectual reasoning. It felt that the 
essence of religion lay elsewhere; that the seat and 
organ of religion was in the heart. In process of 
time, all Islam became permeated with this concep- 
tion, in different degrees and various forms. More 
widely than ever with Christianity, Islam became and 
is a mystical faith. All — the simple believers, the theo- 
logians of the schools, the philosophers — came in one 
form or another to the essential mystical positions. 

The varying, of course, was wide; it stretched 
from absolute Plotinian pantheism — the emission of 
the individuals from the One, and their vanishing 
again into the One — through various phases of more 
or less disguised pantheism to simple acceptance 
of life in God and of God's immanence in the world. 
After the strangest fashion, the absolute contrast of 
Allah and his world — Allah and not-Allah — of the 
Quf&n almost entirely vanished. 


Then, from this soil, developed the conception 
of saints in the precise sense, favorites of God, gifted 
by him with illumination and wondrous powers, 
accepted and heard by him, and therefore to be 
honored, petitioned, practically worshiped by other 
men. These began as ascetics, fleeing from the 
wrath to come; developed into ecstatics, reveling 
in the conception of the love for and of God which 
they pictured in various sensuous ways; and often 
ended as antinomians in a spiritual life above the 
moral law and ritual duty. The worship of these, 
living and dead, by the populace has gone so far as 
to bring Islam, with certain classes, back to a poly- 
theistic or, at least, polydaemonistic position. Into 
the exceedingly interesting details of this I cannot 
here enter. You will find them at length in Dr. 
Goldziher's Muhammedanische Studien. 1 

But, further, there was a tendency for schools of 
disciples to gather round such outstanding figures, ex- 
actly as did the schools of the prophets in the Old 
Testament. They were students around their teacher, 
and unfettered by any vows save those of their love 
and devotion. He instructed them in theology, 
initiated them into the specific religious life, and 
guided them on that pathway. They did not 
necessarily remain always with him. They might 
go back into the world and live their life there. And 
he on his side was not necessarily a cloistered monk 

■ Vol. II, pp. 277-378. 


or a solitary; he might hold what we would call a 
university position as professor of theology or canon 

This went on for centuries. Such teaching saints 
came and went, and with their deaths their circles 
of disciples broke up. The unit of organization was 
still the individual teacher, and for his life only. 
There were early, it is true, communities of begging 
friars who wandered in the summer, and settled in 
their monasteries in the winter, and were tolerably 
continuous of organization; but these had not yet 
come to call themselves by any name. The general 
words describing them are suggestive. The saints 
are waits (wait, pi. awliyd, "a relative," "friend," 
"associate," "favorite," here "of God"); the asce- 
tics were sWihs, "wanderers;" rdhibs, "fearers;" 
and zahids, "ascetics." Broadly, they were all 
called Sufis, from their habit of wearing wool, suj. 
Their exercises are called dhikrs, "rememberings," 
from the qur'anic injunction, "Remember Allah 
much, and praise him morning and evening," 1 

The "remembering" consists in the repetition 
of names of God and certain formulas. 2 

1 Qur. xxxiii, 41. 

' For these see Hughes, Dictionary oj Islam, p. 703, and 
Lane, Modern Egyptians, chap. xxiv. For the whole early 
development see Goldziher, "Materialien zur Kntwickelungsge- 
schichte des Sufismus," Wiener Zeitschrijt jiir die Kunde des 
Morgenlandes, Vol. XIII, p. 35; in short, also, in Macdonald, 
Development oj Muslim Theology, pp. 172-85. 


But in the course of the twelfth century, these asso- 
ciations of personal followers and pupils began to 
pass into self-perpetuating corporations. What are 
now known as fraternities of darwlshes were fairly 
started. Darwlsh is derived from a Persian word 
meaning a mendicant "seeking doors," but it has 
come to be applied to all members of these fra- 
ternities or orders, whether they are begging friars or 
not. The strict begging friar is called faqir, in 
Arabic, "a poor man." 

Among the earliest of these orders appears to be 
that of the Qadirites, founded either by the c Abd 
al-Qadir al-jllani, of whom I have already given 
some legends, or by his immediate followers. But 
the number soon grew, and now there are very many 
of these brotherhoods scattered over the Muslim 
world. Some of them are of very wide spread. 
The Qadirites, for example, have traveled from the 
region of Baghdad as far as northern Africa, and 
are dominant even in the Fulani Emirates of northern 
Nigeria.' One of the youngest orders, and by far 
the most fanatical, the SanQsites, is scattered from 
the Atlantic to the Philippines. 

These orders are independent of one another in 
government; they have each their own ritual and 
mode of life; they differ as to the wonders which 
they perform in ecstasy; their theological attitudes, 

1 Major Alder Burdon, in the Geographical Journal, December, 
1904, p. 650. 


even, are different, varying as to the strictness of 
their adherence to the ritual law and the exactness 
of their acceptance of the traditional faith. They 
constitute, in fact, the only ecclesiastical organization 
that Islam has ever had ; but a multiform organiza- 
tion, absolutely un-unified, either internally or 
externally. Further, each of the orders has a large 
number of adhering lay members, who are in exactly 
the position of the tertiaries of Christian monasticism. 
Thus, in all ranks of life throughout Islam, the influ- 
ence of the orders is active. They are the nearest 
approach to the different churches of Protestantism, 
just as there are striking parallels between their meet- 
ings and the early class-meetings of the Methodists. 
But, besides these great separate and visible 
organizations, there is one, greater, single, and 
invisible. This is the Sufi hierarchy. At its head 
is a great saint, presumably the greatest of the time, 
chosen by God for the office, and given miraculous 
power above all others. He is called the Qulb, or 
Axis, and wanders, often invisible and always un- 
known to the world, through the lands, performing 
the duties of his office. From him the hierarchy 
descends, in gradually widening numbers, and the 
whole system forms a saintly board of administra- 
tion, by which the invisible government of the world 
is carried on. 1 

1 Lane, Modern Egyptians, chap x; Lane, Arabian Nights, 
note 63 to chap, iii; von Kremer, Herrschende Ideen p. 172; 
Vollcrs, in ZDMG., Vol. XLIII, p. 115. 


It may, perhaps, make the above clearer to 
contrast these orders and this hierarchy with the 
monastic orders and the organization of the Roman 
church. At every point, the advantage in univer- 
sality and freedom is on the side of Islam. As for the 
hierarchy — I assume its existence and reality since 
our subject is the beliefs and attitudes of Muslims — 
its head is spiritual, invisible, and in immediate 
connection with Allah; the organization as a whole 
is free from the bonds of locality, the things of 
the world, and the entanglements which these bring. 
The whole, one may say, is a beautiful dream. 
The orders, again, are independent and self -develop- 
ing. There is rivalry between them; but no one 
rules over the other. In faith and practice each 
goes its own way, limited only by the universal 
conscience of Islam. Thus strange doctrines and 
grave moral defects easily develop unheeded; but 
freedom is saved. As to universality, the whole 
Muslim people is reached and may be gathered in. 
The system of tertiaries, adherents, living in the 
world but bound to certain religious usages, which 
the Franciscans first introduced into Christendom 
and the Dominicans adopted, is of the widest and 
earliest extension in Islam. On this side the Muslim 
fraternities might be said to resemble the lodges of 
freemasons or other friendly societies. Further, all 
that is said here of men holds of women as well, 
down to the present day, even, as regards lay mem- 


bership. There always have been, and still are, 
women saints in Islam. The distinction of Roman 
Christendom, that a woman cannot be a priest does 
not exist for Islam, as there is neither priest nor 
layman there. All the Arabic terms, then, which 
I gave above for ascetics, mendicants, etc., can be 
put in the feminine, and the mode of life and exer- 
cises of the man can be predicated of women as well. 
Finally, for all these fraternities, a standard book 
of reference is Depont and Cappolani's ConfrSries 
religieuses Musulmanes, Algiers, 1897. 

But how did this movement and this development 
present itself to the Muslims themselves? That is 
the point of nearer interest to us. Again I take Ibn 
Khaldun as representing very fairly the resultant 
attitude of Islam in the broad toward the Sufis. 
He has not treated the fraternities so far as I can 
find; in his time they, apparently, were not of out- 
standing importance. The following, then, is an 
abstract of his section 1 on the Sufis. Their science 
is one of the religious sciences which arose in the 
Muslim community. From the very beginning the 
method of the Sufis was followed by the most emi- 
nent of the Companions and their immediate suc- 
cessors, as a means of reaching truth and guidance. 
So, I may throw in, dictionaries of Sufi biography 
begin with the ten to whom Muhammad personally 

' Beyrout edition, p. 467; Bal&q, p. 390; de Slane's translation, 
Vol. Ill, p. 85; there are large additions in de Slane. 


promised Paradise, among them being the first four 
khalifas, the "rightly guided." The original form 
of the method consisted in (i) persistence in acts of 
worship; (2) living uniquely for God; (3) turning 
away from the adornments of the world; (4) absti- 
nence from the objects of the masses, such as pleas- 
ure, wealth, ambition; (5) separation from mankind 
in solitude for worship. All that, says Ibn Khal 
dun, following the pious historical fiction which had 
grown up, was general among the Companions and 
the early believers. 

But in the second century, and thereafter, people 
turned to the world, and stooped to be mixed with 
it. Then, those who turned, rather, to worship, came 
to stand by themselves and were called, in distinction, 
Sufis. The derivation of this name he gives, as I 
have already done, as from suf, wool; they wore 
woolen garments, in contrast to the splendid array 
of the non-Sufis. 1 But their turning to the devo- 
tional life and separating themselves from the mass 
of the people had spiritual consequences. Man has 
perceptions, either external or internal; the latter 
are of his own states of joy, sorrow, hope, fear, etc. 
The intelligent spirit which rules the body grows 
through [reflective] perceptions, acts of will and 
states, so consciousness is traditionally divided into 
knowing, feeling, and willing; by these man is 
distinguished from the other animals. They pro- 

' Cf. NOldcke, in ZDMG., Vol. XLVIII, p. 45- 


ceed, one from the other; knowledge from proofs, 
and joy or sorrow from the painful or the pleasant 
perception. So, when the Sufi neophyte applies 
himself to his religious exercises, states 1 (feelings) 
result in him, of one kind or another, and of greater 
or less fixity. He goes up then, as on a ladder, 
trading his dead selves under him, until he arrives 
at that immediate knowledge of the divine unity 
which is his object. He must needs mount up 
through these degrees, whose beginning is obedience 
and purity, and which faith introduces and accom- 
panies. He may be sure that if there are any breaks 
in his progress, it is because he has fallen short in 
some way before that. He must, therefore, cau- 
tiously take account with himself as to what he does 
and does not, and be on his guard against heedless- 
ness. The method, then, is this examination of the 
soul, and a discussion of the tastes of bliss and the 
ecstasies which result from its effects. Further, there 
are certain usages and technical terms peculiar to 
the Sufis, and not used by the mass of the people. 

When, then, the time came that the different re- 
ligious sciences were reduced to writing, and were no 
longer simply carried in the memories, on this science 
also books were written. Thus, from being a prac- 
tice only, it became, in the exact sense, a science. 

But, again, by means of these exercises and ecsta- 
sies, the veil of sense is often rent and the upper 

• For the meaning of " states " cf. p. 188. 


spiritual regions are directly perceived. The soul 
belongs to these worlds, and is thus enabled to reach 
a state where it beholds them, and does not simply 
know about them. This is absolute perception, and 
in this state the soul receives various divine gifts and 
favors from God directly, So Sufis come to know 
the real nature of things, and future events are un- 
sealed to them, and, through their zeal and the forces 
of their souls, they can affect the things of this lower 
world. Yet the more they advance, the less atten- 
tion they pay to such matters, and they finally reckon 
them as temptations and lower manifestations. 

In later times there arose a party which turned 
more and more attention to this rending of the veil 
of sense. They had different methods of bringing 
it about, but they so disciplined the body and nour- 
ished the soul that it could exercise freely and fully 
its essential faculty of perception. They maintained, 
then, that all existence in its real essence could be 
perceived by it, from the highest to the lowest. But 
the soul must be directed by uprightness, otherwise 
its perceptions would be distorted, as in a convex or 
concave mirror, like those of magicians, Christians, 
etc. 1 Apparently the meaning is that by fasting and 
solitude anyone's soul could be enabled to sec the 
spiritual world, but only the upright soul would see 
it perfectly. 

■ The Christian editors of the Beyrout edition omit 
"Christians" here. 


Then these Sufis passed from regarding their 
method as a discipline of the soul, to treating it as 
a means of reaching a knowledge of the true nature 
of things. That is, from being psychological and 
ethical, it becomes metaphysical. In a later edition 
of his book 1 Ibn Khaldun inserted at fhis point a 
long passage upon this, and especially upon the 
relation of God to his creatures. It is much more 
theological than psychological, so I shall give little 
of it here. The traditional attitude, that of the 
fathers, was that God and his creation were abso- 
lutely separate. That, of course, introduced logical 
difficulties, and the scholastic theologians came in 
time to teach that God was neither separate from 
nor joined to his creation. The philosophers held 
that he was neither outside the world, nor within it; 
and the later Sufis that he was identified (muttahid) 
with created beings, either by fusion (hulul) in 
them, or because these beings were he himself, and 
did not contain, either in whole or in part, anything 
except him. " Separation " he then goes on to dis- 
cuss in its two aspects of separation in place and 
separateness as to essence, individuality, existence, 
attributes. The opposite of the latter is unification 
(ittihad). This last, in different phases, was the view 
of many Sufis. 

Some of these explain — but their explanation, 
according to Ibn Khaldun, is obscure to a degree, 

1 De Slane's translation, Vol. Ill, p. 93. 


and the matter evidently cannot be expressed in 
ordinary language— that all things are appearances, 
which emanate in a certain order from God. They 
go back to a saying of Allah's which they allege, 
" I was a concealed treasure, and I desired that I 
might be known; so I created the creatures that 
they might know me." The scheme is evidently 
one of Plotinian emanation, beginning with the 
realities in the world of ideas, and these gradually 
realizing themselves as the spheres, and so down 
to the elemental world when they become individuals 
and appearances. This is called the " self -revealing " 
(tajallti) of Allah, and is only really intelligible 
through the mystical contemplation, which sees all 
things in God, as it sees God in all things. 1 

But another school of Sufis laid weight on the 
idea of absolute unity. The multiplicity which we 
see around us springs from man's multiple senses. 
Just as there would be no color if there were no 
light, so the existence of all perceptible things depends 
on the existence of senses perceiving them, that is 
of percipient beings. This, you will observe, is 
exactly Berkeley's position, that the esse of a thing 
is its percipi. Eliminate, then, all perceptions and 
all beings return to one unity. That is God, who 
is spread through all beings and unites them without 
direction or appearance or form or substance. To 

■ Cf. the article on <Abd al-Rarzftk in the Encyclopaedia of 
hlim, Vol. I, pp. 61 ff. 


this theory, Ibn Khaldun makes some "common- 
sense" objections, but finally urges that according to 
the Sufis themselves the mystical perception of the 
unity is only a stage. The neophyte must pass 
through this; and to go beyond it is hard; but when 
he does, he comes to a farther stage where he can 
again distinguish between beings, and finds them no 
longer swallowed in oneness. 

But these conceptions have undoubtedly had 
great influence. So, too, has the IsmaTlite and 
Shi c ite belief that there is at all times in this world 
some representative of God, whose right it is to 
rule, teach, and guide his people. To this Ibn 
Khaldun traces the development of the doctrine of 
the hierarchy of saints, from the Axis down, which 
I have already described; but as a good Sunnite, 
he, of course, rejects the Shi c ite view. All of it is 
comparatively recent; he cannot find that it was 
professed by the older Sufis. 

Ibn Khaldun finally divides the general Sufi posi- 
tion under four heads: (1) the discipline of the 
soul; the keeping it to strict account -for actions; 
the tastes of bliss and the ecstasies which come upon 
it; its ascent from one spiritual stage to another; 
(2) the unveiling of the unseen world and the per- 
ception therein of spiritual things, of the real natures 
of things, and how they proceed thence; (3) control 
of material things by the grace of God; (4) those 
wild, fanciful expressions which many of them utter 


in ecstasy, the literal meaning of which gives no 
clue to the real meaning. 

To the first, the discipline of the soul, no one can 
take the slightest objection. That way lies the very 
essence of eternal salvation. Nor to the third, the 
miracles of the saints, can any objection be taken, 
provided they are carefully distinguished, which is 
easy, from the miracles of the prophets. The exist- 
ence of these wonders is absolutely certain, and was 
approved by the Companions. As to the second, 
the unveiling of the unseen world, the case is more 
complicated. The most of what they say is like the 
"obscure" verses in the Qufan. It is uttered in 
ecstasy, and he who is not in ecstasy cannot under- 
stand it. The words used give no clue to what they 
mean, for words are conventional signs for known 
things, and these things are not known. You will 
remember here Occam's form of Nominalism. It 
is better, therefore, to let these sayings alone, as we 
let alone the "obscure" passages in the Qufan. He 
to whom God has given knowledge of the meaning 
of any of these sayings, in a way which agrees with 
the plain sense of the faith, may say, "How noble 
they are for eternal salvation ! " In this, you will not 
fail to observe precisely the phenomena of "speak- 
ing with tongues," yet with one curious difference. 
Here there were no "tongues;" they spoke their 
own language, and hence the frequent scandal. It 
is very probable, however, that they used qur 3 anic 


expressions, and these, especially if they were non- 
Arabic speakers by race, would have a haze of 
vagueness and possibility over them. 

But the matter went even farther. In the fourth 
place, the Sufis themselves recognized a class of 
utterances which they called shaiahdt, "overflowings 
in ecstasy as of drunkenness" — all that is in the 
etymology and usage of the root — which were meta- 
phorical expressions used by them when self-control 
had been lost. For these they were held to account 
and blamed by the canonists. Ibn Khaldun thinks 
that in justice we should consider the following 
points. First, if they are people of known goodness 
and an evermastering ecstasy has fallen upon them 
to express which there is no fixed language, then 
they should not be blamed for using language unsuit- 
able for other people and conditions. We may 
take for granted that such people do not think of it 
in the blasphemous sense. But, secondly, if they 
are not people of known goodness, a doubt may 
enter. And, thirdly, if they use such language 
when not in a state of ecstasy but in control of 
themselves and aware of what they say, they are 
plainly to be held accountable. Finally, Ibn Khal- 
dun agreed with the older Sufis in holding that all 
such attempts to get behind the veil and to com- 
prehend the whole nature of tilings and all talkings 
about such perceptions should be repressed. The 
knowledge of God is too wide, and his creation too 


great to be so comprehended; and to cling to the 
guidance of God's law is best. 

I now turn to some concrete examples of this 
religious life; and I take up first the case for which 
we have the fullest and most reliable data. It is 
that of al-Ghazzali, who went through a well- 
marked and permanent conversion in 1095 A. D., 
spent the rest of his life, partly as a Sufi wanderer, 
partly as a teacher of Sufi theology, and died in 
in 1, leaving us an autobiography which is unique 
in Arabic for the keenness and fulness of its self- 
revelation. Unfortunately, he was beset by the 
utilitarianism of Islam, and so could not be content 
to let his book stand for itself as a human document, 
nor even as an apologia pro vita sua. He must 
needs make out of it a manual of apologetics suited 
to his time, and thus, undoubtedly, has dulled the 
personal touch. In so doing he has furnished per- 
haps the most striking example of the fatal Muslim 
didacticism which does not permit an artist, con- 
scious or unconscious, to set a living figure before 
the reader and leave it to do its work, but must 
systematize and explain everything. In this the 
Muslim writers differ markedly from the poets of 
heathen Arabia who had a frank delight in the 
simple expression of themselves without thought of 
their audience. 

But, for all this, al-Ghazzali's book is unique, and 


I must now put before you considerable extracts 
from it. It has been used already, you may remem- 
ber, as the standard Muslim example of conversion 
by Mr. William James, in his Varieties of Religious 
Experience. He wrote it late in life, when he was 
more than fifty (lunar) years old, and only a few 
years before his early death. But from his first 
youth searching to know reality had been a passion 
with him, and he recognized that this passion be- 
longed to a nature planted in him by God. It was 
not any choice of his own which made him keep on 
seeking. He means, I think, that there is nothing 
sinful or unnatural in such an attitude. From his 
early youth, then, he could no longer believe simply 
because he was taught so. He looked round and 
saw that other children were taught differently — Jews 
or Christians — and they grew up Jews or Chris- 
tians. But there is a tradition that the Prophet 
said, "Every child is born a Muslim by nature, 
then his parents make him a Jew or a Christian 
or a Magian." So he was moved to ask what 
was the essence of this fundamental nature, and 
what the essence of the opposing traditional creeds 
taught by parents and teachers, and how he could 
distinguish between these traditional, accepted 
views, seeing that their beginnings were simple 
dictations and there was much contradiction in 
distinguishing between the true of them and the 


So I said to myself [he goes on 1 ], what I want is knowledge 
of the real natures only of things. I must ask, therefore, what 
is the essence of knowledge. It seemed to me, then, that cer- 
tain knowledge is that which uncovers the thing known in 
such a way that there does not remain with it any doubt, 
nor accompany it the possibility of error or illusion, nor can 
the mind conceive such. Security from error must accom- 
pany the certain to such a degree that if the claim of ability 
to show its falsity is made by someone, for example, who can 
turn a stone into gold or a staff into a serpent, that would not 
produce any doubt or denial. For when I know that ten is 
more than three, if someone says to me, "No, but three is 
more than ten, and I will prove it by changing this staff into 
a serpent," and he does change it, and I see him do it, I do 
not doubt what I know because of that; and the only result 
for me is wonder as to how he can do such a thing, but never 
any doubt as to what I know. 

Then I knew that everything which I did not know in this 
fashion, and of the certainty of which I was not assured in this 
way, was a kind of knowledge in which there could be neither 
trust nor surety, and knowledge with which no trust goes is no 
certain knowledge. So I examined all the things which I 
knew, and found that I had no knowledge which could be 
described in this way, except sense-perceptions and necessary 
intuitive knowledge. Then, after despairing, I said, "There 
is no hope of getting to the dubious except through the clear, 
that is through sense-perceptions and necessary intuitive 
knowledge. So I must test these first, that it may be clear to 
me whether my trust in objects of perception and my security 
from error in necessary knowledge is of the same kind as 
my trust which I had formerly in traditional knowledge and 
the trust which the most of men have in reasoned knowledge; 
or is a certified trust without treachery or limit." 

1 Al-Munqidh min ad dalil, edition of Cairo, A. H. 1303, p. 4. 


So I turned zealously to consider the objects of sense and 
necessary knowledge, and to try whether I could bring myself 
to doubt them. And doubt reached the point with me, that 
I could not permit myself to extend trust even to objects of 
the senses. Doubt as to them kept spreading, and I said, 
"How can you be sure of objects of sense, while the strongest 
of the senses is vision, and it looks at a shadow and sees the 
shadow standing unmoved and judges that there is no motion. 
Then, by test and observation after a time, it knows that the 
shadow does move, and not suddenly but gradually, bit by 
bit, never standing still. And it looks at a star and sees that 
star small as a gold piece, but geometry proves that it is greater 
than the earth. In such cases, then, the senses decide in one 
way but reason in another; it gives the lie and accuses of 
deceit in a way which cannot be answered." 

So I said, "My trust in the objects of the senses, too, is 
gone; perhaps there can be no trust save in those intellectual 
results which are axiomatic, as our saying that ten is more than 
three, or that negation and affirmation cannot exist together in 
one thing, and that a thing cannot be both created and eternal 
a parte ante, existent and non-existent, necessary and impos- 
sible." But the objects of the senses said, "What assurance 
have you that your trust in conclusions of reason is not like 
your trust in the objects of the senses? You used to trust 
in me; then came the test of the reason and gave me the lie, 
and if it had not been for the test of reason you would have 
gone on believing me. Then, perhaps, behind the perceptions 
of the reason there is another test; whenever it appears 
reason will be given the lie by it, just as reason appeared and 
gave sense the lie. That such a perception has not appeared 
does not prove its impossibility." 1 

At an answer to this my soul somewhat paused and justified 

1 The confusion here between singular and plural, sense and 
its results, is in the original also. 


her confusion by alleging the phenomena of dreaming. She 
said, "Do not you see that in sleep you believe in certain 
things, and you imagine conditions and believe that they 
have reality and fixity, and in that state you do not doubt 
them? Then you wake up, and you know that to all your 
imaginations and beliefs there was neither foundation nor use. 
Then, how are you sure that all which in your waking-time 
you believe in, because of either sense or reason, is not fact 
simply in relationship to your then condition? But it is 
possible that a condition may surprise you, the relationship 
of which to your waking-state is like the relationship of 
your waking-state to your dreams; and your waking-state 
is a sleep in relation to it. Then, whenever that condition 
comes upon you, you will be assured that all which you have 
vainly imagined by your reason consists of baseless phantoms 
only. Or, perhaps, that condition is what the Sufis claim to 
be their condition; since they assert that they have open 
soul-perception in their states, which come when they plunge 
into their souls and are apart from their physical senses, of 
certain states which do not agree with those results of reason. 
Or, perhaps that condition is death, since the Prophet said, 
'Mankind are asleep, and when they die, they are aroused.' 
So, perhaps, the life of this world is a sleep, in relation to the 
other world; and when a man dies, things appear to him which 
are opposed to what he observes now. Then it will be said 
to him, 'We have uncovered from thee thy veil, and thy sight, 
today, is piercing.' "' 

When these thoughts came to me, a deep impression was 
made upon me, and I desired some treatment against them, 
but it was not easy. They could be refuted only by means 
of proof; and no proof can be set up, except by combining 
primary facts of knowledge; but when these are not granted, 
a proof cannot be put together. This disease troubled me and 

■ Qur. 1, 21. 


remained with me almost two months. During that time, I 
was an absolute sceptic in mind, if not in statement. 

At length God healed me of that disease, and my soul 
returned to health and balance, and the necessary intellectual 
truths came back, accepted and certain. That was not by 
means of a proof or by any form of words; but by a light 
which God cast into my breast. That light is the key of the 
most of knowledge; and whoever believes that the mystical 
unveiling is based upon abstract proofs narrows the wide 
mercy of God. When the apostle was asked what was the 
meaning of "opening," in the saying of God, "Whom God 
wills to guide, he opens his breast to Islam," 1 he said, "It is 
light which God throws into the heart." And when he was 
asked, "And what is its sign?" he said, "Removing from 
the abode of deceit and return to the abode of eternity." 
About this same thing the Prophet said, "God Most High 
created his creatures in darkness; then he sprinkled upon 
them some of his light." It is from that light that the unveil- 
ing ought to be sought, and that light is cast forth suddenly 
out of the divine bounty on certain occasions, and should be 
watched for; as the Prophet said, "Lo, in the days of your 
earthly life, thy Lord hath outbreathings; be ready to meet 
them." And the point of all these narratives is to show that all 
diligence should be used in seeking, until that is reached 
which was not sought. Fundamental conceptions cannot be 
sought, for they are with us. And if that which is with us 
is sought, it cannot be found, and vanishes. He who seeks 
what is not sought cannot be suspected of falling short in 
seeking what is sought. 

When, then, God healed me of this disease, by his grace and 
wide bounty, I observed that the different kinds of seekers 
around me divided into four classes. There were the scho- 
lastic theologians who claimed to be guided by judgment and 

1 Qur. vi, 125. 


discussion. There were the allegorists [holders of an inner 
meaning] who asserted that they possessed a doctrine of their 
own, and that they were distinguished from others in that they 
learned from an infallible Head. There were the philosophers, 
who asserted that they followed logic and absolute proof. 
And there were the Sufis, who claimed that they were dis- 
tinguished by being in the presence of God, and that they 
possessed immediate soul -perception and unveiling. 

Then I said to myself, "The truth must needs lie with 
one of these four, for these are they who walk the paths of the 
seeking of the truth. If, then, the truth is hidden from them, 
there remains no hope of success in gaining it. For there is 
no hope in returning to a traditional faith, after it has once 
been abandoned, since the essential condition in the holder 
of a traditional faith is that he should not know that he is a 
traditionalist. Whenever he knows that, the glass of his 
traditional faith is broken. That is a breaking that cannot 
be mended and a separating that cannot be united by any 
sewing or putting together, except it be melted in the fire and 
given another new form." 

Al-Ghazzali now turns to a discussion of these 
different pathways to truth, one after the other. It 
is here that his desire to write a manual of apologetics 
interferes most with the value of his book as an 
autobiographical revelation of himself. We can 
hardly believe that he worked through these different 
schools in the calm and orderly fashion which he 
now sets down. But in the putting together of this 
systematized search for truth, it is perfectly clear 
that he is simply arranging, in what he thinks is 
logical form, the experiences which had come to 
him, broken and irregularly, in the life of his soul. 


There can be no question, for example, that his 
strange drop into absolute skepticism and his 
recovery, not by argument but through the wideness 
of God's mercy, are narrated as they actually took 
place. Similarly, as we now turn to his account of 
his experiences on the path of the Sufis, we shall not, 
I think, have any doubt that here, too, there is a 
genuine page from his inner life. 

That this was his first acquaintance with Sufi 
methods, I do not think. Nor that he had not, him- 
self, in earlier life, experimented in their practices. 
As a young man, he had evidently experimented in 
everything, and later had found everything vain. 
You will remember, for example, the story of his 
dream, which I have already given, 1 and of the 
advice of his shaykh to him. I find it hard to put 
that dream in his life, after his conversion, and, 
therefore, feel compelled to believe that he is now 
returning to ground already trodden. 

His second trial of Sufiism he describes as follows: 3 

Then I gave my attention to the path of the Sufis. I knew 
that their path could be complete only by means of both 
theory and practice. On the side of theory, its result is 
climbing the steep ascent of the soul and removing from the 
soul its blameworthy characteristics and qualities, until one 
may attain by it to being alone in the mind with God, and 
to the adornment of the mind with the constant thought of 

. ' Supra, p. 9 a. 
■ P. 28 of text cited above. 


Now the theory of it was easier to me than its practice. So 
I began to acquire it by the study of their books [al-Ghazzall 
here gives a list of several] until I had reached the summit of 
their theoretical objects and had learned as much of their 
path as could be gained by studying and hearing about it. 

It was plain to me that it was impossible to attain the most 
characteristic elements by study; these called for experience 
[dhawq] and state [hal\ and change in one's qualities. How 
great a difference there is between one who knows the defini- 
tion of health and the definition of satiety and the causes and 
conditions of both, and one who is in health and is satisfied ! 
Or between one who knows the definition of drunkenness, 
that it is an expression for a condition which results from 
vapors which ascend from the stomach to the abodes of 
thought, gaining control of them, and one who is actually 
drunk! He who is drunk does not know the definition and 
science of drunkenness; he is drunk and has no knowledge 
at all. The sober man knows the definition of drunkenness 
and its elements, and yet nothing of drunkenness is with him. 
A physician, again, when he is ill, knows the definition of 
health and its causes and its remedies, although he is lacking 
in health. Similar is the distinction between knowing the 
nature, the conditions, and the causes of self-restraint, and 
having, as your condition, self-restraint, and the keeping of 
the soul from the world. 

So I knew, of a certainty, that to the Sufis, states and not 
definitions were of importance; and that I had got all that 
could be got by way of learning; that what was left could not 
be reached by hearing and studying, but only by experience 
and the following of a certain course of action. 

From the sciences which I had studied and the ways which 
I had gone in searching out the kinds of sciences, both religious 
and intellectual, I had attained to an assured belief in God 
and in prophecy and in the Last Day. These three funda- 


mentals of faith were fixed in my soul, not by an abstract, 
definite proof, but by connections and associations and 
experiences, all the elements of which cannot be put in short. 
It had become plain to me that I had no hope of attaining 
to the salvation of the world to come except by piety and 
the restraint of the soul from lust; and that the beginning of 
all that must be the cutting of the ties of the heart to this 
world, the abode of deceit, and the return to the abode of 
eternity; and by striving toward God with absoluteness of 

That, too, I knew, could not be completely carried out, 
except by turning away from ambition and wealth and by 
flight from entanglements and restraint. I looked at my 
conditions, and Io, I was plunged in restraints which sur- 
sounded me on all sides. I looked at my works; the best of 
them were studying and teaching; and lo, in them, I was 
striving after knowledge that was unimportant and useless 
with regard to the world to come. Then I considered my 
purpose in studying; and lo, it was not purely for the sake 
of seeing the face of God, but its inciter and mover was the 
search for repute and for the spread of renown. 

I became assured that I was upon the extremity of a 
crumbling edge, and was looking down into the Fire, if I did 
not turn and amend my state. So I continued meditating 
upon that for a time, and, having still freedom of choice, one 
day, I would fix my resolve upon going away from Baghdad 
and separating myself from those conditions, and another 
day I would relax that resolution. I would put forward one 
foot and draw back the other. I could not have a pure desire 
of seeking the world to come in the morning, without the 
army of lust making an attack and breaking it in the evening. 
The lusts of the world kept dragging me by their chains to 
abiding; and the crier of faith kept proclaiming, "Journey- 
ingl journeying! there remaineth not of life, save a little. 


The long journey is before thee; and all that thou are doing, 
of labor and of knowledge, is a vain phantom. If thou dost 
not prepare thyself now for the world to come, when wilt thou 
prepare thyself ? And if thou wilt not cut thy ties now, when 
wilt thou cut them ? " Thereupon my desire would be aroused 
and my purpose fixed. But the devil would return and say, 
"This is an accidental condition; beware lest thou heed it, 
for it will pass swiftly; and if thou obeyest it, and abandonest 
this ample honor and settled position, free from perturbation 
and embitterment and this conceded authority, clear of hostile 
strife, perhaps thy soul would have adjusted itself to it and 
return will not be easy to thee." 

So I continued swaying between the attractions of the 
lusts of this world and the summons of the other world almost 
six months, the first of which was Rajab, A. H. 488. In that 
month, the matter passed the bound of choice to compulsion, 
in that God locked my tongue till it was bound so that I 
could not teach. I would put pressure upon myself to teach 
a single day, in order to satisfy certain persons, but could not 
bring my tongue to utter a word. Then, this laming of my 
tongue brought upon me a sorrow in my mind; my digestion 
and desire for food and drink were destroyed; I could not 
swallow a drop nor digest a mouthful. My strength began 
to fail, and the physicians despaired of my cure. "This is 
a mental trouble," they said, "which has come to affect the 
physical organization, and it can be healed only by rest of the 
mind from the care which has befallen it." Then, feeling my 
weakness and giving up entirely my own will, I took refuge 
with God, as one under necessity and with no resource left. 
And he, "Who answers the driven when he calls," 1 answered 
me and made easy to me my turning away from ambition 
and wealth and family and companions. 

Al-Ghazzali goes on to tell how he managed to 

1 Qw. xxvii, 63. 


extricate himself from his impossible position at 
Baghdad at the court of the Khalifa. He used as a 
pretext that he wished to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, 
although his real intention was to go to Syria and 
stay there, immersing himself in the ascetic and con- 
templative life of the Sufis. Apparently, his departure 
caused as great a commotion as if some distin- 
guished professor with us, or a bishop, perhaps, 
were to announce that he had at last been con- 
verted and had determined to abandon the world. 
In the church of Rome such a man would enter a 
monastic order; in Protestantism I fear that there 
would be no place for him. Al-Ghazzall became a 
wandering Sufi monk. He went to Syria, and spent 
there almost two years in retirement and solitude. 
He passed through the Sufi religious exercises, puri- 
fying his mind and heart, laboring with his failings 
in character, and giving himself entirely to the 
thought of God. After a time, the desire that he 
might really make the pilgrimage to Mecca rose in 
him; the clouds had passed from him and his 
religious life was again normal. It was as though 
a man with us had withdrawn from the communion 
of the Lord's Supper, and had again found his way 
back. So he went to Mecca and performed his 
religious duties there, and was drawn gradually 
again into the current of events. For ten years his 
life was divided between the cultivation of his own 
soul and caring for others in the world. The cares 


and ties of the world, the necessities of life, and the 
prayers of his children, now drew him back; his 
yearning for the communion and peace of the 
mystic now drove him into the solitudes. So the 
years passed: 

And [he said 1 ] there were revealed to me in the course of 
these periods of solitude things which cannot be numbered 
nor exhausted. The amount which I mention now, for the 
benefit of others, is that I know of a certainty that the Sufis 
only follow the path to God; that their mode of life is the 
best of modes, and their path the most sure of paths, and 
their characteristics the purest of characteristics. If the 
intellectual with their intellect and the learned with their 
wisdom and students of the mysteries of the divine law with 
their knowledge were to join to alter anything of the Sufi 
mode of life or its characteristics, or to exchange these for 
something better, they would find no way of doing that. 

All actions of the Sufis, whether of movement or of rest, 
whether internal or external, are derived from the light of the 
lamp of prophecy. And other than the light of prophecy 
there is none on the face of the earth from which illumination 
can be sought. In a word, whatever is said as to their pure 
path is so. Its first condition is a cleansing of the mind 
entirely from all that is not God. Its key of entrance — just 
like the first cry of prayer, which means that all else is now 
unlawful — is the plunging of the mind totally in God. But 
that is its end only as to what comes under free will and 
acquisition from its beginnings; it is really only the beginning 
of the path, and what comes before it is like a vestibule. 
From the beginning of the path, unveilings and clear soul- 
pcrccplions begin; and the traveler therein, while awake, 
sees angels and the souls of prophets, and hears their voices, 

1 P. 32 of text cited above. 


and learns from them. Then his spiritual condition advances 
from witnessing of forms and similitudes to stages where the 
limit of language is too narrow, and no rendering in words is 
possible, for such expression would contain manifest errors, 
against which there could be no guarding. A point of near- 
ness to God is reached which some have thought to render 
as huliii, "fusion of being;" some as ittihad, "identification;" 
and some as wusUl, "union." But all these expressions con- 
tain error, and he who is in that condition ought not to say 
more than the poet: 

And there happened what happened of that which I mention not; 
So think of a good thing, and ask not concerning the Good. 1 

He who has not been granted actual experience of any- 
thing of this, can know of the essence of prophecy only the 
name. The miracles {karamdt) of the saints are in reality the 
beginnings of prophets. That was, too, the first condition 
of the Prophet when he went to Mount Hira, and was alone 
there with his Lord, engaged in religious exercises, until the 
Arabs said, " Muhammad is passionately in love with his 
Lord." Whoever follows the Sufis in their course can verify 
this condition by experience, [dhawq] and whoever is not 
granted actual experience can be assured of it by the test of 
listening. If he consorts much with them, he will understand 
that as a certainty through their circumstances. He who 
companies with them will gain from them their faith; for 
they are not such that their companion can be lost. But he 
who cannot company with them, let him know assuredly the 
possibility of that of which we have been speaking by certain 
proofs, such as we have laid down in the Book of the Marvels 
of the Heart.' Verification, then, by proof is knowledge; 
having intimate contact with the essence of that condition is 

1 Or, perhaps, "So think a report, and ask not concerning 
the report." 

• Translated below, pp. 220 ff. 


experience; receiving on the test of listening, with approval, 
is faith; these are three stages. 

On this basis, then, al-Ghazzall would put the 
proof of the fact of prophecy. The soul witnesses 
to it, either by absolute experience of strictly similar 
phenomena, or by first-hand observation of the exist- 
ence of such similar phenomena, or by certain proofs 
which I hope to take up later. The basis of it all is, 
therefore, what the Sufis call "states." The word is 
a puzzling one to translate, and must be rendered 
differently in different contexts. Primarily, it means 
only a psychological condition, arising without effort 
or apparent cause, as opposed to results of reasoning. 
It is feeling, as opposed to reason; an immediate con- 
sciousness, as opposed to derivative knowledge. 1 

The data of such phenomena of the inner life were 
for al-Ghazzali and his school, that is practically for 
al-Islam after him, the only certain basis for religious 
faith and knowledge. He never really abandoned 

i Ibn cArabl, the great western mystic, thus distinguishes: 
"Knowledge is of three grades: (a) rational, any knowledge 
axiomatic or as a consequence of consideration of a proof under the 
condition of stumbling on what that proof means; (b) knowl- 
edge of 'states;' these are reached only by 'tasting' and the 
merely intellectual man cannot know this or get to it by a proof; 
such is knowledge of the sweetness of honey, the bitterness 
of aloes, of emotion and longing; he only who has experienced 
thrse can know them; (c) knowledge of the secrets; it is above 
the sphere of reason and is a knowledge breathed into the mind 
by the Holy Spirit; it is peculiar to prophets and saints; by it 
they take mysteriously all knowledge to themselves" (Comm. on 
Ihyd, Vol. VII, p. 345). 


his skeptical position as to the results of reason; 
and, in fact, he tended to ascribe all human knowl- 
edge more or less directly to revelation either through 
prophets or saints. For him, as for Ibn Khaldun, 
philosophy was bankrupt, and he retained only so 
much trust in reason as to enable him dialectically 
to destroy the possibility of a metaphysical system, 
on the one hand, and to establish the authority of 
psychological states, on the other. In the revelation 
of man's emotional nature, not in the results of his 
reason, lie fact and certainty; for, on that side, there 
is a spark in man of the divine nature; but reason is 
a mere utilitarian drudge, limited to a narrow round, 
and beyond that to be distrusted. Further, the 
Sufis used the word "states" to indicate also those 
conditions of joy or sorrow, elation or depression, 
which descend upon the heart of the devotee in 
constant change. And as a last development, a 
"state," in the highest sense, is a state of ecstasy 
when the devotee has passed out of himself, is uncon- 
scious of the world, and conscious only of God. 
But none of these could be controlled by the will; 
the spirit came and went. As with the Scholar 
Gypsy, "it took heaven-sent moments for that skill." 
Yet this "skill" was man's only guide. That it was 
unto this last that the church of Islam came, in spite 
of the crass and, one might almost say, materialistic 
monotheism of Muhammad, is one of the strangest 
developments in all the history of religion. The 


wheel came full circle and seems now nailed in its 

Another word worthy of notice is that which I 
have rendered above "experience." Literally, it 
means "taste," and is either the act of tasting, or 
the taste itself. Then it has various derived appli- 
cations; tasting in any way; taste in language and 
literature; tasting the savor of the divine truth or 
essence in the soul ; all such soul-experiences. 

In accordance with the above al-Ghazzali gives in 
the following words his final results as to the nature 
of man and the character of man's intercourse with 
the unseen world : * 

Then, after I had persevered in withdrawal from the 
world, and in the solitary life for almost ten years, there 
became plain to me and certain, in the course of that, by 
innumerable causes — at one time by spiritual experience, at 
another time by demonstrative knowledge, and at another 
time by acceptance on faith — that man is created with a body 
and with a heart. I mean by "heart" his spiritual essence 
which is the locus of the knowledge of God, as opposed to the 
flesh -and -blood organ in which dead bodies and the lower 
animals share. Further, it became plain to me that as the 
body has a health in which is its happiness and a sickness in 
which is its destruction, so the heart, similarly, has a health 
and a soundness (none is saved "except he who cometh to 
God with a sound heart"') and a sickness, in which is its 
eternal destruction for the world to come, as God hath said, 
"In their hearts is a sickness." 3 That ignorance with regard 

1 P. 38 of the Munqidh. » Qur. xxvi, 89. 

3 Ibid., ii, 9. 


to God is a destroying poison; and that disobedience of God, 
through following the lusts, is the heart's grievous ailment; 
that knowledge of God is its reviving remedy, and obedience 
to God in opposition to the lusts is its healing medicine; 
that there is no way of treating it, to do away with its disease 
and to gain for it health, except by medicines; just as there is 
no way of treating the body, except by the same. 

And just as the medicines for the body produce an effect 
in gaining health through a property in them, to which the 
intellect cannot attain, but with regard to which physicians 
must be believed who have learned that property from the 
prophets who, in turn, came to know the properties of things, 
through the prophetic property, so it became plain to me that 
the intellect could not attain to the mode of the working of 
the medicines of the heart, which are exercises of devotion, 
in their definitions and amounts, defined and prescribed by the 
prophets, but that, with regard to this, the prophets must be 
followed who attained unto these properties by the light of 
prophecy and not by means of reason. And just as medicines 
are made up of kind and amount, and some are double of 
others in weight and amount; and as in the difference of 
these amounts there lies a secret belonging to their proper- 
ties; so acts of devotion which are the medicine of the disease 
of the heart are compounded of actions, differing in kind or 
amount, as "prostration" is double of "bowing," and the 
prayer of the dawn is half the prayer of the afternoon in 
amount; and in this there is a certain secret belonging to the 
properties, which cannot be learned except by the light of 

Those, therefore, have been most foolish who have desired 
by means of reason to discover for those things a law, or have 
imagined that they were so given by accident — not on account 
of a secret in them which required them, by way of this 
property. And just as in medicines there are bases which are 


fundamental and additions which are supplemental, every 
one of which has peculiar effects on the working of the bases, 
so supererogatory acts of devotion and usage are complements 
completing the effects of the basal acts of devotion. 

In a word, the prophets are the physicians of the diseases 
of hearts; and the only use and authority for reason is that 
it should teach us this, and should bear witness to the truth 
of prophecy and to its own inability to attain to what the eye 
of prophecy can reach, and that it should take us by our 
hands and commit us to prophecy, as the blind are committed 
to their guides and the sick to their physicians. This is the 
work and the bound of reason, and beyond this it may not 
go, except to make known what the physician has taught it. 
These things I learned with the assurance of absolute per- 
ception in the course of my solitude and my retirement from 
the world. 

Thus does al-Ghazzali build an ingenious defense 
of the mechanical details of the Muslim ritual law 
upon his agnostic theory of knowledge. I shall 
come back, later, to his Science of the Heart, but, 
in the mean time, must leave him with one remark. 
The exercises by which, in his case, the ecstatic state 
was induced, seem to have been of a simply devo- 
tional and personal character. We have no details 
of his pursuing them at this time under the special 
guidance of a shaykh, although, during his earlier 
life, we have already seen him working under such 
influence. Thus, with him, if there was any hypno- 
tism in the case, it must have been exercised by 
himself. It is significant that the course of prepara- 
tion through which he went as a young man, under 


the personality of a teacher, came to nothing and left 
him capable of absolute unbelief. His real conver- 
sion, as we have seen it, sprang from within himself, 
and was induced or fostered by no foreign influence. 
Of the reality of the change in him there can be no 
question. His own modesty as to the rank in saint- 
hood which he had reached is significant. So the 
following story has great psychological probability, 
as it evidently describes his effort to free his mind 
from the burden of all his legal and theological 
studies, and to present it as a tabula rasa to the new 
impressions. A later mystic tells it : 

Al-Ghazza.Ii was wont to say, "When I wished to plunge 
into following the people [the Sufis] and to drink of their drink, 
I looked at my soul, and I saw how much it was curtained 
in" — at this time he had no shaykh — "so I retired into 
solitude and busied myself with religious exercises for forty 
days and there was doled to me of knowledge what I had 
not had, purer and finer than I had known. Then I looked 
upon it, and Io, in it was a legal element. So I returned to 
solitude and busied myself with religious exercises for forty 
days, and there was doled to me other knowledge, purer and 
finer than what had befallen me at first, and I rejoiced in it. 
Then I looked upon it, and lo, in it was a speculative element. 
So I returned to solitude a third time for forty days, and there 
was doled to me other knowledge; it was finer and purer. 
Then I looked on it, and lo, in it was an element mixed with 
a knowledge that is known [i. e., not simply perceived, felt], 
and I did not attain to the people of the inward sciences. 
So I knew that writing on a surface from which something 
has been erased is not like writing on a surface in its first 
purity and cleanness, and I never separated myself from 


speculation except in a few things." On this there is the 
remark, "May God have mercy on Abu- Hamid al-Ghazzall; 
how great was his justice and his guarding himself from any 

And here, finally, is a remark by an intimate 
friend which shows how much he was changed from 
the supercilious, self-confident scholar of his earlier 

However much he met of contradiction and attack and 
slander, it made no impression on him, and he did not trouble 
himself to answer his assailants. I visited him many times, 
and it was no bare conjecture of mine that he, in spite of what 
I saw in him in time past of maliciousness and roughness 
toward people, and how he looked upon them contemptuously, 
through his being led astray by what God had granted him 
of ease, in word and thought and expression, and through the 
seeking of rank and position, had come to be the very opposite 
and was purified from these stains. And I used to think 
that he was wrapping himself in the garment of pretense, but 
I realized after investigation that the thing was the opposite 
of what I had thought, and that the man had recovered after 
being mad." a 

' "Life" in Journal of American Oriental Society, Vol. XX, 
p. oo. 

* Op. cit. p. 105. 


IN ISLAM— Continued 

Our next example of the mystical life takes us to 
India under the Mogul emperors, during the reigns 
of Akbar, Jahangir, Shah-Jahan, and Aurangzlb. 
Stretching through these reigns, there lived at 
Balkh, Cashmere, and Lahore, a saint of national 
celebrity, whose life, sayings and doings have been 
made public by von Kroner 1 on the absolutely 
first-hand evidence of a book written by an imme- 
diate disciple, who lived a curiously mixed life, in 
part as a Sufi student, and in part as an official of 
rank at the Mogul court. The saint was Molla- 
Shah, who was born in Badakhshan in A. d. 1584; 
educated at Balkh and Lahore, received into the 
Qadirite order of darwlshes; became a pantheistic 
Sufi, but went through the external rites of Islam in 
order not to offend the people; developed great 
personal magnetism by which he surrounded himself 
with many devoted disciples; lived through several 
attacks for heresy, and managed to conciliate even 
the puritan Aurangzlb; and died in the odor of 
sanctity at Lahore, in 1661. His disciple and 
biographer was Tawakkul Beg, whom as a young 
man he initiated into the mystical life and led to the 

• Journal asiatique, February, 1869, p. 105. 


point where he clearly perceived the inner light, 
the unity of all things, and himself vanishing, as an 
individual, in the One. 

The interest in the account lies in the plain hypno- 
tism employed and in the comparatively minor im- 
portance of devotional and ascetic exercises. It is true 
that Molla-Shah, himself, according to this account, 
had reached his own unveiling by such exercises, 
and without the hypnotic help of a teacher. But 
for his own pupils, he had discovered a simpler and 
shorter course, in which he used his will and per- 
sonality to open, as the phrase is, the knot of their 
hearts. That method is described by Tawakkul 
Beg as applied to himself and some others. His 
absolute faith in his master and evident devotion to 
his memory make his narrative a very trustworthy 

For a long time he found it difficult to prevail upon 
Molla-Shah to operate upon him. The master said 
that he recognized that the young man had a true 
vocation and that he was naturally saddened by see- 
ing so many of his fellows admitted to the spiritual 
life. But if he were initiated, he would certainly 
abandon the public life, for which his father, who 
had no idea of mysticism, intended him. What 
answer could Molla-Shah give, if he made this old 
soldier's son a darwlsh ? Finally, Tawakkul Beg cut 
the knot when his father left Kashmir and sought to 
take his son with him. He ran away, returned to 


Cashmere, and was at last received by Molla-Shah. 
He thus describes his initiation, which I translate 
from von Kremer's French rendering: 

I passed all that night without being able to close an eye, 
and set myself to recite the one hundred and twelfth chap- 
ter of the Qur>an one hundred thousand times, which I accom- 
plished in some days. It is well known that the Great Name 
of God is contained in that chapter, and that by the power of 
that name, whoever reads it one hundred thousand times 
is able to attain accomplishment of all his desires. So I 
formed a wish that the master would grant me his affection, 
and, as a matter of fact, I convinced myself of the efficiency 
of this means. For scarcely had I finished reciting that chap- 
ter for the one hundred thousandth time, when the heart of 
the master was filled with sympathy with me, and he gave 
orders to Senghin Muhammad, his representative [vicaire, 
in von Kremer's French], to conduct me, the following night, 
into his presence. During that entire night he concentrated 
his mind upon me, while I directed my thought toward my 
own heart; but the knot of my heart did not open. 

So three nights passed, during which he made me the 
object of his spiritual attention, without any effect being felt. 
On the fourth night, Molla-Shah said, "This night, Molla- 
Senghin and Salih Beg, who are both very open to ecstatic 
emotion, will direct all their mind on the neophyte." They 
obeyed this order, while I remained sitting, the whole night, 
with my face turned toward Mecca, concentrating, at the 
same time, all my mental faculties upon my own heart. 
Toward the dawn, some little light and clearness showed 
themselves in my heart; but I was not able to distinguish 
either color or form. 

After the morning prayers, I went with the two persons 
whom I have just named, to the master who saluted me and 


asked them what they had made of me. They replied, 
"Ask himself." He then turned to me and asked me to tell 
him my experiences. I said to him that I had perceived a 
clearness in my heart; whereupon the shaykh brightened and 
said to me, "Thy heart contains an infinity of colors; but 
it has become so dark that the gaze of these two crocodiles 
of the infinite ocean [of mystical knowledge] have not been 
able to give it either brightness or transparency. The moment 
is come when I myself must show how it is clarified." 

Thereupon, he made me sit before him, my senses being as 
though intoxicated, and ordered me to reproduce his own 
image within myself; and, after having bandaged my eyes, 
he asked me to concentrate all my mental faculties on my 
heart. I obeyed, and in an instant, by the divine favor and 
by the spiritual assistance of the shaykh, my heart opened. 
I saw, then, that there was something like an overturned cup 
within me. This having been set upright, a sensation of 
unbounded happiness filled my being. I said to the 
master, "This cell, where I am seated before you — I see a 
faithful reproduction of it within me and it appears to me 
as though another Tawakkul Beg were seated before another 
Molla-Shah." He replied, "Very good! The first apparition 
which appears to thee is the image of the master. Thy com- 
panions [the other novices] have been prevented by other 
mystical exercises; but, as far as regards myself, this is not 
the first time that I have met such a case." He then ordered 
me to uncover my eyes; and I saw him, then, with the physical 
organ of vision, seated before me. He then made me bind 
my eyes again, and I perceived him with my spiritual sight, 
seated similarly before me. Full of astonishment, I cried 
out, "O Master! whether I look with my physical organs 
or with my spiritual sight, always it is you that I see." 

After these things, I saw advancing toward me a dazzling 
figure, and when I had told the master of it, he directed me 


to ask the apparition its name. I addressed to it that 
question, in my mind, and the figure replied in the voice of the 
heart, "My name is c Abd al-Qadir al-Jilanl." I heard this 
answer with my spiritual ear. The master then counseled 
me to pray the saint to accord to me his spiritual assistance 
and succor. When I had asked this, the apparition said to 
me, "I have already granted to thee my spiritual assistance; 
it is by it that the knots of thy heart have been opened." 
Filled with profound gratitude, I undertook the duty of 
reciting every Friday night the whole QurHn in honor of this 
great saint, and during two entire years, I never neglected 
that usage. Molla-Shah then said to me, "The spiritual 
world has been shown to thee in all its beauty. Remain, then, 
seated, effacing thyself entirely in the marvels of that unknown 

I conformed strictly to the directions of my master; and 
from day to day the spiritual world was opened further 
before me. The day following, I saw the figures of the 
Prophet and of his principal Companions, and of legions of 
angels and of saints pass before my inner sight. Three months 
went by in this manner, after which the sphere where all color 
is effaced opened before me, and then all these images dis- 
appeared. During all this time the master did not cease to 
explain to me the doctrine of union with God and of mystical 
insight; but he was not willing to show me the absolute 
reality. It was not until after a year that the science of the 
absolute reality with regard to the conception of my own 
proper existence reached me. The following verses were 
revealed, in that moment, to my heart, whence they passed to 
my lips unconsciously: 

I knew not that this perishable carcass was naught but water 

and clay. 
I did not recognize either the faculties of the heart or of the 

soul, or of the body: 


Unhappy am I that without Thee, so much of my life has 

Thou wast I, and I knew it not. 

When I submitted to Molla-Shah this poetic inspiration, he 
rejoiced that the idea of union with God had at last been mani- 
fested to my heart; and, addressing his friends, he said, 
"Tawakkul Beg has heard from my mouth the words of the 
doctrine of the union with God, and he will never belie its 
secret. His inner sight has been opened; the sphere of colors 
and of images has been shown to him; and thereafter the 
sphere where all color is effaced has been revealed to him. 
Whoever, after having passed through all these phases of 
the union with God, has obtained the absolute reality, does 
not permit himself to be led again astray either by his own 
doubts or by those which skeptics can suggest." 

How different this is from al-Ghazzall's expe- 
rience needs no saying. Here there is no ethical 
element; there is nothing but the stimulation of 
emotional religiosity with, so far as this narrative 
goes, no suggestion for conduct. The object is to 
reach a certain assurance of the existence of the 
Unseen and a direct knowledge as to the relation 
of the individual to that Unseen. If it were not that 
the operation is in terms of emotion and intuition 
purely, we might say that what is given here is 
a metaphysical basis for life. Perhaps Dr. Max- 
well's "metapsychical" would again be the better 

But, further, this is reached by most evident 
"suggestion" in the hypnotic sense. We can see, 
too, that the path along which the neophyte is led 


is a well-known one, with well-marked stages, as 
definite as in the development of an old-fashioned 

The references to stages showing color and form 
and to a later one, where color vanishes, are inter- 
esting. In this case, their arrangement and sequence 
is not complicated, nor does it seem to be of a 
mechanical fixedness. But that also was found, and 
some Sufi teachers held that the neophyte passed 
through seven stages of purification, each marked 
by the appearance of a different colored light. 
Others rejected this entirely. Such lights might 
be met, they said, but it was a dangerous thing for 
the neophyte to pay too great attention to them. 
They belonged to the body, and did not come from 
the spiritual world. The elaborate classification of 
them, they argued, and the expectation of each of 
them at a definite stage was to universalize and to 
turn into a dogma the purely subjective and personal. 
You will find more on this matter in Fleischer's 
Kleiner e Schriften. 1 His hope expressed then (in 
1862) that others would take up the subject and 
study it further, has not, as regards Islam, so far as 
I know, been fulfilled. In the discussions, however, 
of late years, of the emotional religious life, such 
phenomena have occasionally been touched.* 

« Vol. Ill, p. 440. 

■ See, for example, William James, Varieties of Religious 
Experience, p. 451, and Proceedings oj the Society for Psychical 
Research, Part LI, p. 97 (the recent Welsh revival). 


To return to Tawakkul Beg. He had now been 
initiated as a darwish into the Qadirite order, and 
might have passed the rest of his life in a cloister, or 
as a wandering ascetic. But no such vows hold the 
darwish back from return to the world as are binding 
in the monastic orders of the Roman church. And 
so, on his father's petition, addressed to Molla- 
Shah, Tawakkul Beg went back into the world, and 
passed ten years in the service of the state; yet not, 
as one might imagine, in any peaceful capacity, but 
as a soldier. Again he returned to his master, and 
spent more than a year with him, who, thereafter, 
again dismissed him, telling him that his profession 
was that of arms, and giving him a letter of intro- 
duction to Prince Dara Shukoh, son of Shah Jahan. 
With him he must have passed through the troublous 
days of the contest for the empire in the last years 
of Shah Jahan's life, when Aurangzlb swung himself 
to power and Dara Shukoh went down to absolute 
ruin and death. 

But these changes have left no reflection in the 
story of Molla-Shah's influence as retold by von 
Kremer. The only danger for him seems to have 
lain in the incautious utterances, from time to time, 
of his disciples. These sometimes proclaimed too 
openly the doctrine of the absolute unity, and were 
naturally accused of heresy, or they carried out too 
logically its consequences, and neglected their ritual 
and even their moral duties. Islam has generally 


shown itself strangely tolerant toward both of these 
deviations; and, indeed, will permit anyone to say 
and do almost anything he pleases, if he only shows 
signs of clear religious frenzy. That we have 
already seen formally laid down by Ibn Khaldun. 1 
But occasionally the Muslim conscience becomes 
excited, or there is a scrupulous ruler who takes his 
position seriously, and then there is danger for free- 
thinkers and free-livers. Once, at least, Molla-Shah 
was saved from imminent danger by the friendship 
of Prince Dara. Shukoh, and on another occasion 
he had to temporize with Aurangzib. 

Descriptions are given by Tawakkul Beg of two 
other such hypnotic initiations, but they add little to 
Tawakkul's own narrative. One was that of Dara. 
Shukoh himself, who had the greatest difficulty in 
prevailing on Molla-Shah to operate on him. Another 
was that of Fatima, a sister of Dara Shukoh, who 
had a long correspondence with the master; was 
initiated by her brother acting for him; passed 
through all the normal visions; and attained to pure 
union with God and intuitive perception. Molla- 
Shah said of her, " She has attained to so extraordi- 
nary a development of the mystical knowledge that 
she is worthy of being my representative." 

She thus describes some of her experiences: 

I seated myself, then, in a corner with my face turned 
toward Mecca, and concentrated all my mind on the image 

' Cf. p. 173. 


of the master, calling up, at the same time, in my imagination, 
the personal description of our most holy Prophet. Occupied 
with this contemplation, I arrived at a state of soul in which I 
neither slept nor waked, and then I saw the holy company of 
the Prophet and of his first adherents, with the other saints. 
The Prophet and his four friends [Aba Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, 
and c Ali] were seated together, and a certain number of the 
principal Companions surrounded him. I perceived also 
Molla-Shah; he was seated near the Prophet, upon whose 
foot his head lay, while the Prophet said to him, "O Molla- 
Shah, for what reason did you illumine that Timurid ? " 

When my senses had returned to me, my heart, under the 
impression of this distinguished sign of the divine favor, 
bloomed like a bed of roses, and I prostrated myself, full of 
boundless gratitude, before the throne of the absolute Being. 
Filled with unutterable happiness, I did not know what to 
do to express all the joy of my heart. I vowed a blind obe- 
dience to the master, and I chose him, once for all, as my 
spiritual guide, saying, "O how signal a happiness! What 
an unheard of felicity has been given to me — to me, a feeble 
and unworthy woman! I render thanks and praises for it 
without end, to the All-powerful, to the incomprehensible God, 
who, when it seemed that my life must pass uselessly, per- 
mitted me to give myself to the search for him, and accorded 
to me, thereafter, to attain the desired end of union with him, 
giving me thus to drink of the ocean of truth and the fountain 
of mystical knowledge. I nourish the hope that God will per- 
mit me to walk with a firm step and unshakable courage on 
this path which is comparable to the Sirat [here the narrow 
bridge to Paradise) and that my soul will always taste the 
supreme happiness of being able to think of him. God be 
praised, who, through the particular attention of the holy 
master, has accorded to me, a poor woman, the gift of con- 
ceiving, in the most complete manner, of the absolute Being, 


as I have always ardently desired. Whoever does not possess 
the knowledge of the absolute Being is not a man — he belongs 
to those of whom it is said, 'They are as the brutes, and 
more ignorant still.' 1 Every man who has attained this 
supreme felicity becomes, through this fact itself, the most 
accomplished and the most noble of beings, and his individual 
existence is lost in the absolute existence; he becomes like a 
drop in the ocean, a mote in the sunshine, an atom over against 
totality. Arrived in this state, he is above death, future 
punishment, the Garden, and the Fire. Whether he is man 
or woman, he is always the most perfect human being. This 
is a favor of God who dispenses it to whomsoever it seems to 
him good. The poet 'Attar has said of Rabi c a, 'This is not a 
woman but a man, absorbed as she is by the love of God.' " 

You will now, I think, understand how there are 
women saints in Islam. In the ecstatic religious 
life only does the difference between the man and 
the woman drop away; both are simply human beings 
before their God. In that presence they are equal in 
virtue of the common human nature, though the 
woman can inherit only half that a man can, and 
can never divorce her husband. The distinction 
even of Roman Christendom, as I have pointed out 
above, that a woman cannot be a priest, does not 
exist for Islam. The relation between the princess 
Fatima and Molla-Shah was only that between pupil 
and teacher. 

It would be easy to go on almost indefinitely with 
concrete examples of the mystical life; or, for it is 
the same thing, the devotional attitude in Islam. 

' Qur. vii, 178. 


But I will come down now to quite modern times and 
to a European observer. Edward William Lane, 
during his long residence in Cairo, entered as fully 
as any non-Muslim has ever done into the life and 
ideas of the people. In one of the notes to his 
Arabian Nights, 1 he gives the following account 
of a Cairo friend, and it will serve as an example 
of another type of the Muslim mystic, the wandering 
ascetic : 

One of my friends in Cairo, Abu-1-Kasim of Geelan, men- 
tioned in a former note, entertained me with a long relation 
of the mortifications and other means which he employed 
to attain the rank of a welee. These were chiefly self-denial 
and a perfect reliance upon Providence. He left his home 
in a state of voluntary destitution and complete nudity, to 
travel through Persia and the surrounding countries, and yet 
more distant regions if necessary, in search of a spiritual 
guide. For many days he avoided the habitations of men, 
fasting from daybreak till sunset, and then eating nothing but 
a little grass or a few leaves or wild fruits, till by degrees he 
habituated himself to almost total abstinence from every 
kind of nourishment. His feet, at first blistered and cut by 
hard stones, soon became callous; and in proportion to his 
reduction of food, his frame, contrary to the common course 
of nature, became (according to his own account) more stout 
and lusty. Bronzed by the sun, and with his black hair 
hanging over his shoulders (for he had abjured the use of 
the razor), he presented, in his nudity, a wild and frightful 
appearance; and on his first approaching a town, was sur- 
rounded and pelted by a crowd of boys; he therefore 
retreated, and, after the example of our first parents, made 

> Vol. I, p. 210. 


himself a partial covering of leaves; and this he always after 
did on similar occasions; never remaining long enough in a 
town for his leafy apron to wither. The abodes of mankind 
he always passed at a distance, excepting when several days' 
fast, while traveling an arid desert, compelled him to obtain 
a morsel of bread or a cup of water from the hand of some 
charitable fellow-creature. One thing that he particularly 
dreaded was, to receive relief from a sinful man, or from a 
demon in the human form. In passing over a parched and 
desolate tract, where for three days he had found nothing to 
eat, not even a blade of grass, nor a spring from which to 
refresh his tongue, he became overpowered with thirst, and 
prayed that God would send him a messenger with a pitcher of 
water. "But," said he, "let the water be in a green Bagh- 
dadee pitcher, that I may know it [to] be from thee, and not from 
the devil; and when I ask the bearer to give me to drink, let 
him pour it over my head, that I may not too much gratify 
my carnal desire." "I looked behind me," he continued, 
"and saw a man bearing a green Baghdadee pitcher of water, 
and said to him, 'Give me to drink;' and he came up to me 
and poured the contents over my head, and departed! By 
Allah it was so! " Rejoicing in this miracle, as a proof of his 
having attained to a degree of wildyeh (or saintship), and 
refreshed by the water, he continued his way over the desert, 
more firm than ever in his course of self-denial, which, though 
imperfectly followed, had been the means of his being thus 
distinguished. But the burning thirst returned shortly after, 
and he felt himself sinking under it, when he beheld before 
him a high hill, with a rivulet running by its base. To the 
summit of this hill he determined to ascend, by way o( morti- 
fication, before he would taste the water, and this point, with 
much difficulty, he reached at the close of the day. Here 
standing, he saw approaching, below, a troop of horsemen, 
who paused at the foot of the hill, when their chief, who was 


foremost, called out to him by name, "0 Abu-1-Kasim! 

Geelanee! Come down and drink!" but, persuaded by 
this that he was Iblees with a troop of his sons, the evil genii, 
he withstood the temptation, and remained stationary until 
the deceiver with his attendants had passed on, and were out 
of sight. The sun had then set; his thirst had somewhat 
abated; and he only drank a few drops. Continuing his 
wanderings in the desert, he found, upon a pebbly plain, an 
old man with a long white beard, who accosted him, asking 
him of what he was in search. "I am seeking," he answered, 
"a spiritual guide; and my heart tells me that thou art the 
guide I seek." "My son," said the old man, "thou seest 
yonder a saint's tomb; it is a place where prayer is answered; 
go thither, enter it, and seat thyself, neither eat nor drink nor 
sleep; but occupy thyself solely, day and night, in repeating 
silently, 'Ld ildka illa-lldh' [there is no deity but God]; and 
let not any living creature see thy lips move in doing so; for 
among the peculiar virtues of these words is this, that they 
may be uttered without any motion of the lips. Go, and 
peace be on thee." "Accordingly," said my friend, "I went 
thither. It was a small square building, crowned by a cupola; 
and the door was open. I entered, and seated myself, facing 
the niche, and the oblong monument over the grave. It was 
evening, and I commenced my silent professions of the Unity, 
as directed by my guide; and at dusk I saw a white figure 
seated beside me, as if assisting in my devotional task. I 
stretched forth my hand to touch it; but found that it was 
not a material substance, yet there it was; I saw it distinctly. 
Encouraged by this vision, I continued my task for three 
nights and days without intermission, neither eating nor 
drinking, yet increasing in strength both of body and spirit; 
and on the third day, 1 saw written upon the whitewashed 
walls of the tomb, and on the ground, and in the air, wherever 

1 turned my eyes, ' I A ildha illa-lldh;' and whenever a fly 


entered the tomb, it formed these words in its flight. By 
Allah it was so! My object was now fully attained; I felt myself 
endowed with supernatural knowledge: thoughts of my friends 
and acquaintances troubled me not; but I knew where each 
of them was, in Persia, India, Arabia, and Turkey, and what 
each was doing. I experienced an indescribable happiness. 
This state lasted several years; but at length I was insensibly 
enticed back to worldly objects; I came to this country; my 
fame as a caligraphist drew me into the service of the govern- 
ment; and now see what I am, decked with pelisses and 
shawls, and with this thing [a diamond order] on my breast; 
too old, I fear, to undergo again the self-denial necessary to 
restore me to true happiness, though I have almost resolved 
to make the attempt." Soon after this conversation, he was 
deprived of his office, and died of the plague. He was well 
known to have passed several years as a wandering devotee; 
and his sufferings, combined with enthusiasm, perhaps 
disordered his imagination, and made him believe that he 
really saw the strange sights which he described to me; for 
there was an appearance of earnestness and sincerity in his 
manner, such as I thought could hardly be assumed by a 
conscious imposter. 

Here is, again, another example given by Lane in 
the same place : 

A reputed saint of this description, in Cairo, in whom 
persons of some education put great faith, affected to have 
a particular regard for me. He several times accosted me in 
an abrupt manner, acquainted me with the state of my family 
in England, and uttered incoherent predictions respecting 
me, all of which communications, excepting one which he 
qualified with an "in sluia-Udh" [or, "if it be the will of 
God"], I must confess proved to be true; but I must also state 
that he was acquainted with two of my friends who might 


have materially assisted him to frame these predictions, 
though they protested to me that they had not done so. The 
following extract from a journal which I kept in Cairo during 
my second visit to Egypt, will convey some idea of this person, 
who will serve as a picture of many of his fraternity. Today 
[November 6, 1834], as I was sitting in the shop of the Basha's 
book-sellers, a reputed saint, whom I have often seen here, 
came and seated himself by me, and began, in a series of 
abrupt sentences, to relate to me various matters respecting 
me, past, present, and to come. He is called the sheykh 
'Alee El-Leysee. He is a poor man, supported by alms; 
tall and thin and very dark, about thirty years of age, and 
wears nothing at present, but a blue shirt and a girdle, and a 
padded red cap. "O Effendee" he said, "thou hast been 
very anxious for some days. There is a grain of anxiety 
remaining in thee yet. Do not fear. There is a letter coming 
to thee by sea that will bring thee good news." He then 
proceeded to tell me of the state of my family, and that all 
were well excepting one, whom he particularized by descrip- 
tion, and who he stated to be then suffering from an inter- 
mittent fever. [This proved to be exactly true.] "This 
affliction," he continued, "may be removed by prayer; and 
the excellences of the next night, the night of [i. e., preceding] 
the first Friday of the month of Regeb, of Regeb, the holy 
Regeb, are very great. I wanted to ask thee for something 
today; but I feared; I feared greatly. Thou must be 
invested with the wildyeh [i. e., be made a welee]; the welees 
love thee; and the Prophet loves thee. Thou must go to 
the sheykh Mustafa EI-Munadce, and the sheykh El-Bahace. 
Thou must be a welee." He then took my right hand, in a 
manner commonly practiced in the ceremony which admits 
a person a darweesh, and repeated the Fatehah (commonly 
pronounced Fat-hah); after which he added, "I have admitted 
thee, my darweesh." Having next told me of several circum- 


stances relating to my family— matters of an unusual nature — 
with singular minuteness and truth, he added, "Tonight, if 
it be the will of God, thou shalt see the Prophet in thy sleep, 
and El-Khidr and the seyyid El-Bedawee. This is Regeb, 
and I wanted to ask of thee, — but I feared — I wanted to ask 
of thee four piastres, to buy meat and bread and oil and rad- 
ishes. Regeb! Regeb! I have great offices to do for thee to- 
night." Less than a shilling for all that he promised was little 
enough. I gave it him for the trouble he had taken; and he 
uttered many abrupt prayers for me. In the following night, 
however, I saw in my sleep neither Mohammed nor El-Khidr 
nor the seyyid El-Bedawee, unless, like Nebuchadnezzar, I 
was unable, on awaking, to remember my dreams. 

I must now draw toward a close on the saintly 
life. Let me, then, return to the thesis with which I 
started and sum up our results. These, of necessity, 
are very fragmentary and very incomplete, and can 
be regarded only as opening a vista and suggesting 
its possibilities. Consider that down that vista all 
the religious life of all the Muslim peoples has 
poured for thirteen centuries, and you will realize 
how ridiculously inadequate a few lectures must 
necessarily be. I believe that, in the broad, I have 
touched the true keynotes and, in the details, have 
given what is generally characteristic only, but 
more I cannot say. Ridiculous inadequacy, I repeat, 
is the only expression. 

But to the results. The reality, for the Muslim, 
of the background of the Unseen is now before you, 
of that unknown spiritual order from which his life 
has come, which it constantly touches, and to which 


it will return. I have spoken of that background 
hitherto as the Unseen simply, and have not, so far, 
taken in its being an unseen order, as Mr. William 
James expresses it. So we must now ask to what 
extent the Muslim regarded, and regards, that 
world beyond the pale as an ordered world, a world 
subject to laws at which he may dimly grasp and a 
world dependable in its actions and reactions. The 
Muslim, it is true, takes life bit by bit, but can he 
be sure that he can take hold of the right bit and in 
the right way, with regard to this unseen back- 
ground ? He may not have any very definite sense 
of law; but can he be sure that all his ethical con- 
ceptions will not be upset tomorrow, by some voice 
out of the darkness? 

This question tends to be much more one of dog- 
matic theology than of the religious psychology 
with which we are now engaged. Yet some attempt 
at it we must make, first, then, the idea that behind 
the curtain there is at work an absolute, inflexible 
law, the same yesterday, today, and for ever, must, 
for the enormous mass of Islam, be set aside. Only 
the few scattered, and steadily dwindling philoso- 
phers ever held such a view. Their basis was the 
Aristotelian conception of law, shot, it is true, with 
warmer fervors from the ecstasies of Plotinus, but 
still law. Personalities, the Active Intellect and the 
Spirits of the Spheres were in that law — were that 
law — but dominant, over and through them, was 


the conception of the great mechanical animal of 
the universe and its law. 

Yet such philosophers and their disciples were a 
vanishing, and now are a vanished fraction in the 
Muslim world. At the opposite extreme from them 
is the old Muslim position — still the half -unconscious 
view of the great mass — that over all is Allah, and 
that all hangs on his personal will. An extreme 
school of scholastics has reduced this to a theory of 
the universe, in which the universe, as a whole and 
in details, is being constantly recreated by Allah, 
from moment to moment, as he at such moment 
wills. It is will and not law that is behind our 
world. On this view, no ethical theory of science 
is possible. All that can be sought is the will of 
Allah on the case, as it is supernaturally revealed. 

Yet it is admitted that there is a certain unity 
in that so revealed will corresponding to the unity 
which must lie in the mind of Allah. We may be 
fairly sure that our ethical imperatives will stand; 
they will stand because they are imperatives, com- 
mands from the will of Allah. Between these two 
dogmatic and rationalistic extremes lie the various 
mystical conceptions. He who has seen God, he 
knows him, trusts him, depends on him; and that 
is enough. He does not reason about law or per- 
sonality; these have melted together in the vision of 
the inner life. Order in the unseen world, then, for 
the mass of Muslims, means either the accepted will 


of God or the assurance of his personality. In one 
way or another it is for man to learn that will and 
to put himself under the control of that personal- 
ity. In harmonious adjustment thereto lies man's 
supreme good; his chief end is to glorify God and 
enjoy him forever. 

The pathways to that knowledge and intercourse 
are now before you. The distrust of reason, save 
as a tutor to bring the soul to the Prophet or his like; 
the frank agnosticism, so far as reason is concerned ; 
the equally frank supernaturalism and dependence 
on extra-rational guides; all these are plain. The 
prophet, the soothsayer, the dreamer, the wizard, 
the familiar spirit, the saint, have all their place in 
the scheme. Prophecy, dreaming, sainthood are 
the lawful and accepted means by which man may 
know God. Prophecy is historical. The prophets 
are all gone, and none will now come until Arma- 
geddon and the millenium draw nigh. The guidance 
of dreaming is open to every man. So, too, the 
varied ranks of sainthood, from the humblest dar- 
wish to the Axis himself, the saintly vicegerent of 
God on earth. 

Further, the path of the mystic is the path of the 
religious life, and to that in detail we must now 
turn. The preceding narratives must have already 
suggested to you its course and methods. One 
inevitable question, however, I must here meet, 
however briefly. The types of the religious life 


among us are numerous and among them the ascetic, 
emotional, ecstatic, play a comparatively small part. 
Does all the religious life of Islam move in those 
paths; or are there others which should fairly be 
taken into account ? The reply need not be long. 
It is true that there are some minor and opposed 
drifts, but they may fairly be disregarded. First, 
the canon lawyers still feel that in their studies sal- 
vation may be found and, like the Pharisees, they 
emphasize the importance of a scrupulous observance 
of the ritual law. But while the masses respect them, 
the people can hardly be expected to find in legal 
subtleties satisfaction for their religious cravings. 
Secondly, the puritan element of the Wahhabites has 
always denounced the mystical attitudes and the rev- 
erence for saints, and has sought to lead Islam back 
to the supposedly simple monotheism of Muhammad. 
But their power is fast waning and has lost the re- 
forming energy which it at first showed. Thirdly, 
there may be some small remains of philosophical 
speculation concealing itself behind Suflism; but 
that does not affect the masses. Practically, the con- 
ception of the mystical, saintly life and the organiza- 
tion of darwish fraternities cover all Islam and are 
the stimulants and vehicles of Muslim piety. The 
religious institutions tend to foster this. Above all, 
comes the pilgrimage to Mecca and the many 
imitation pilgrimages all over the Muslim lands, to 
the tombs of celebrated saints. These are the 


scenes of orgasms of ecstatic emotion comparable 
in many ways to those at negro camp-meetings. 
Here, for example, is an incident and a meditation 
thereon from a recent book, With the Pilgrims to 
Mecca (London, 1905), which professes to be written 
by a Persian Muslim who had been educated in 
England. I see no reason to doubt that statement, 
although the pilgrim's Arabic is of the queerest, 
and he makes distinct slips in his law and theology. 
The scene itself shows clear marks of psychological 
truth and autobiographic value: 

While I was admiring the unpretentious grace of the holy 
shrine, and meditating from its threshold on the golden age 
of Islam, my guide broke in on my thoughts, saying, "You 
are allowed to make two prostrations at the base of any one 
of the pillars. Let me advise you, in the welfare of your im- 
mortal soul, to choose the one facing the Black Stone outside, 
which is the most sacred spot under the canopy of heaven." 
The difficulty was to force my way thither. The whole house 
was packed with pilgrims. Some were praying, some were 
weeping, others were groaning or beating their chests, and 
all — except the Bedouins — were clad in their sacred habits. 
A great awe fell on me. It was as though the graves had 
yielded up their dead at the blast of Israfil's trumpet. All 
eyes were blind, all ears deaf. The thought of home, of 
country, of wife, and child seemed drowned in a sea of pas- 
sionate devotion to the creator of those human blessings. 
And from outside, in the Harem, there arose the chant of the 
Talbih, which every pilgrim must sing on sighting Mecca, 
on donning the Ihram, on entering the Harem, on starting 
for the Valley of Desire and the Mountain of Compassion, and 
on performing the little pilgrimage of Omreh. I paused in 


the effort to reach the southern pillar, and listened to the 
singing from without: 

Labbaik, AUahomma, Labbaikl 

Labbaik, la Sherika lak Labbaikl 

Labbaik, enal-hamda, Vanahmeta lak Labbaik! 

Labbaik, la Sherika lak Labbaikl 

(Verily, here am I! O Allah, here I ami 

Verily, here am I! O Allah, thou hast no mate! 

Verily, here am I, O Allah! All praise and glory to thee I 

Verily, here am 1 1 O Allah, thou hast no mate I) 

On my soul, it was fine! All my senses must have deserted 
me. I must have lost all consciousness of self suddenly. 
The burden of existence seemed to be lifted. If I did not 
actually slip off the slough of the flesh I came to realize in a 
flash that the soul is immortal. These introspective thoughts 
were not mine at the moment of the transformation. They 
were retrospective, forced on me, when, on coming back to a 
sense of my surroundings, I found myself kneeling at the 
Door of Repentance, and heard myself crying, "Labbaik, la 
Sherika lak Labbaik." Yes; there was I — "an agnostic who 
would like to know" — rubbing my brow on the marble floor 
of the Ka c bah, without the dimmest notion in my mind as to 
how I came to be there. Only a month before, I had been 
sipping lemon squash in a London restaurant. Strange. 
The first thing I did was to look round in search of my guide, 
as skeptical a rascal as ever breathed. He was on his knees, 
at my side, his eyes starting out of the sockets. I put my 
hand on his shoulder. "Come," I said, "let us go out. I 
am suffocating." He rose to his feet, looking scared and 
abashed; but his face assumed its usual expression of sunny 
mirth on reaching the Harem. He put his tongue in his 
cheek as of yore; then, repenting him of his unregenerate 
mood, he told the truth. "Yd-Moulai (Oh, sir)," said he, 
"within the house so great reverence fell on me that I did 


hardly think of the blessed houris and peris promised to me 
in paradise. The same emotion overmasters me every year 
on entering the Ka c bah of Allah, and yet what does it all 
mean? What is the value of this dream which we call life, 
and which is my true self ? Is it the self that inquires, scoffs, 
doubts, but wants to find the truth ? Or is it the self that you 
discovered a moment ago bereft of every sense save one, 
namely, that which would seem to have drawn me irresistibly 
to a power whose will none would seem to be able to dispute ? 
Has that power an existence outside of my emotions, or is it 
merely the fabric of my senses ? You are silent, Yd-Moulai. 
Well, there are more ways of getting drunk than by drinking 
of the juice of the forbidden fruit. I escaped from myself, 
just then, on a spiritual rather than a spirituous fluid. Let 
us return to our camp." 1 

This last piece of comment, of course, bears signs 
of manufacture; but the emotional outburst is 
evidently genuine, and gives a true picture of how 
the pilgrimage ceremonial, and especially the hoary 
sanctity of the Ka c bah affects the pilgrim. And the 
same scenes are being repeated at saintly shrines over 
the Muslim world. 

It is, then, as I have already suggested several 
times, with Roman rather than Protestant Christen- 
dom that Islam must be compared as to its emotional 
life. There the likeness is singularly close, reaching 
down even to the Ghazzalian combination of philo- 
sophical agnosticism and supernatural faith. And 
for this theological likeness there is good ground. 
Almost certainly, Thomas Aquinas was deeply influ- 

> Hadji Khan, With the Pilgrims to Mecca, p. 170. 


enced, though indirectly, by al-Ghazzalfs views; and 
he, in his turn, has molded the Roman theology. 
That the rules and attitudes of one order at least, 
that of the Jesuits, were similarly affected by the 
Muslim fraternities and especially by the doctrine 
of the relationship of shaykh and disciple, seems 
certain. "Let the disciple in the hands of his 
teacher be like a dead body," is the metaphor used 
by both. 

If you consider, then, how in the Roman com- 
munion the religious life, almost necessarily, con- 
nects itself in some way or degree with an order, and 
finds its support in a mystical attitude toward the 
universe, the overwhelming preponderance of such 
institutions and attitudes in Islam will not appear 
so strange. This parallel might be worked out in 
detail; but that, like so much else, I must now leave 
with this mere touch. 





I desire now to put before you a sketch of the 
theory, and, to some extent, the practice of the 
discipline of the traveler on his way to direct knowl- 
edge of the divine and during his life in it. We 
have already had narratives telling the story of such 
journeys as made by individuals. Our lack now 
is of a broad and philosophizing generalized descrip- 
tion. For that I turn again to al-Ghazzali. 

The first half of his great work, The Revivifying 
of the Sciences of Religion, is devoted, as he tells us 
himself, 1 to a consideration of what shows itself 
externally in the traveler by way of acts of devotion 
and religious usage. Under these he includes creeds 
and their bases, religious ritual, and the religious 
manner of carrying out the ordinary operations of 
life in the broadest. The second half deals with 
the internal and hidden side of life, the heart and 
its workings, good and evil. Under it are con- 
sidered the lusts and passions, the virtues and per- 
fections. To this second half, then, he prefixes an 
introduction dealing with the wondrous qualities 

' Ifryi, edition with commentary of Sayyid Murtada, Vol. 
VII, pp. aoi ff. 



and nature of what is called "the heart," and with 
the general discipline by which it can be directed and 
purified. That done, he is free to deal with the 
lusts and virtues in detail. 

But our interest is with the general subject, and 
I shall therefore now put before you al-Ghazzall's 
doctrine of the heart. I translate thus literally the 
Arabic qalb, but it will be well to notice that there 
is an essential difference of idea in the derived uses 
of qalb and "heart." With the English "heart," 
when thus used, there goes always, I think, the 
conception of emotions, affections, desires, senti- 
ments; the emotional nature in general is funda- 
mental and the intellectual has comparatively little 
part. That cannot be said of the Arabic qalb. It is 
far more the seat of the mind, and it approximates 
to the English "heart" only in that it suggests the 
inmost, most secret and genuine thoughts, the very 
basis of man's intellectual nature. In the words of 
a Muslim commentator, it is a "transcendental 
(or theologic) subtlety" (latifa rabbaniya) ; that is, 
a fine, non-material thing connected with the unseen 
world. We have, therefore, to dismiss the idea that 
"heart," so used, implies a blind reaching out of the 
affections toward the divine and a submergence of the 
intellectual powers; it is rather the bringing to bear 
of another and more trustworthy and absolute organ 
of the mind. But that al-Ghazzall himself will now 
make clear. 


He opens his statement with an ascription of 
praise to Allah involving a declaration that man, 
physically and mentally, is confused and perturbed 
if he tries to reach absolute appreciation of God 
while God himself absolutely apprehends and com- 
prehends everything. What man apprehends of 
God is that he cannot absolutely apprehend him. 
So Paul (Phil. 3 : 2) felt that he had rather been laid 
hold of than had himself laid hold. But man has 
a glory and excellency which distinguishes him from 
all other created beings and equips him for that 
knowledge of God which in this world is his beauty 
and perfection and in the world to come his equip- 
ment and store. This is his "heart" in the above 
sense. It knows God and draws near to God and 
works for God and labors toward God. It reveals 
what is with God ; it is accepted by God when free 
from aught but him, and is curtained off from God 
when immersed in aught but him. It is sought and 
addressed and rebuked and punished. It is happy 
when near God and prospers when man has purified 
it, and is disappointed and miserable when man pol- 
lutes and corrupts it. At one time it is obedient to 
God, and then what appears externally by way of 
acts of piety is from its illumination; and at another 
time it is rebellious against God and what appears 
externally by way of corruption and rebellion is an 
effect from it. As it is dark or bright, vices or 
virtues appear, for "a vessel drips with what is in 


it." When a man knows it, he knows himself; 
and when he knows himself he knows his Lord; 
and contrariwise, if he is ignorant of it. Whoever 
is ignorant as to his heart is still more ignorant as 
to everything else; and most are thus ignorant. 
For "God intervenes between a man and his heart" 1 
in such a way as to hinder him from observing God 
and knowing his qualities and perceiving how he is 
turned between two of God's fingers and how, at one 
time, he lusts toward the lowest things and is de- 
pressed to the region of devils and, at another time, 
is raised to the loftiest things and mounts to the 
world of those angels who are nearest to God. He 
who does not know his heart so as to watch it and 
guard it and observe what shines on it and in it 
from the treasures of the heavenly kingdom, he is 
of those concerning whom God has said, "They 
forget God, so he makes them forget themselves; 
they are the evil-doers." ' So knowledge of the heart 
and its essential qualities is the root of religion and 
the foundation of the way of travelers thereto. 

It is, then, al-Ghazzall's purpose to expound the 
wonders of the heart. He will do it by comparisons, 
because most intelligences are too dull to attain to 
the spiritual world. By this, I think, he means only 
that the terms he uses must not be taken in a literal 
way; there are no absolute terms for the things of 

1 Qur. viii, 34. 
* Ibid., lix, 19. 


the heavenly kingdom of which he is going to speak, 
and human words can only approximate. 

But first some terms must be defined: "Heart" 
(qalb) does not mean the heart of flesh but, as we 
have seen, a certain transcendental (or theologic) 
spiritual subtlety in some connection with the physical 
heart. It is the essence of a man, the part which 
perceives and knows. How it is connected with the 
physical heart is a very perplexing question. Its 
connection resembles the connection of accidents 
with substances, or qualities with things they qualify, 
or the user of a tool with the tool, or things located 
with their locus. Al-Ghazzali does not wish to enter 
farther on this for two reasons: (i) The question 
belongs to speculative science rather than to practical, 
which is his present subject. The practice of life 
requires consideration of the qualities of this "heart," 
not of its essence. And (2) it is connected with the 
question of the spirit (rilh) on which the Prophet 
kept silence; in this, as in everything, it behooves 
all Muslims to imitate him. Yet the commentator 
remarks that this " heart " has been called the rational 
soul; that the spirit (ruh) is its inner part and the 
animal soul is its vehicle. 

As to the use of "spirit" (riih), the second term, 
a similar ambiguity exists. On one side it is the 
subtle substance or vapor issuing from the hollow 
of the physical heart, being matured by its heat, and 
spreading by means of the arteries through the whole 


body. This physiology, of course, is pre-Harveyan. 
Al-Ghazzali compares it to a lamp carried about 
through a house, lighting it up. The spirit is the 
lamp, and life is the light which it spreads. But, 
on another side, the term indicates apparently much 
the same knowing and perceiving subtlety as does 
"heart." does not here make clear 
a distinction. Further, as we have seen, he regards 
general discussion of the meaning of the term as 
unsuitable. God himself has told the Prophet in 
the Qufan (xvii, 87) to say, "The spirit is my 
Lord's affair." 

This, however, applies only to the masses, those 
who cannot think except in terms of matter, or, if 
they have so far freed themselves, cannot clear their 
minds further of the conception of position in space. 
Before such the full doctrine of the spirit must not 
be laid; they would accuse the expounder of it of 
claiming qualities peculiar to the divine nature. 
They do not realize that the real essence and differ- 
entia of the divine nature is aseity, existence through 
itself; all other things having only an existence bor- 
rowed from it. But for those who have realized 
this the definition of spirit is simple. It exists in 
itself, being neither an accident, nor a material sub- 
stance, nor a thing bounded; it is not located in a 
place or a direction; it is not joined with the human 
body and the world, nor separated therefrom; it is 
not within the bodies of the world (*. e., the concen- 


trie shells of the universe) and the human body, nor 
without them. All this is part, also, of the definition 
of God; but he has aseity as well. Into al-Ghaz- 
zall's arguments and illustrations of the possibility 
of the existence of such a substance, we need not 
enter. His method, as always, is to defend logically 
the possibility of this transcendental fact; to illus- 
trate by physical analogies its workings; to base 
its actuality upon revelation; it being always under- 
stood that the fact itself is transcendental and can 
be put in human words and presented to human 
thought only in images. 

The spirit further comes into existence through a 
direct outpouring (jayd) from God upon the embryo 
fitted to receive it. Upon an embryo so ready the 
divine outpouring stamps itself, as an image does in 
a polished mirror. All Muslim mysticism is ridden 
by the primitive feeling that there must be some 
entity in a reflection. It goes with the problem of 
the metaphysical schoolboy who asked where the 
figures went when wiped off the slate. But the 
term "outpouring" must not suggest the pouring 
of water upon the hand, where there is a separation 
of part of the water from the pitcher and a joining 
of it to the hand. Rather, it should be imaged as 
like the outpouring of the light of the sun upon a 
wall. In that case there is no separating in the 
substance of the sun and joining and spreading on 
the wall. The light of the sun is only the cause 


why something similar to it in the property of light, 
although weaker, originates on the illuminated wall. 
So, too, in a mirror; the only relationship is pure 
causality. Thus, the divine beneficence is the cause 
of the origination of the light of being in every 
entity fitted to receive it. This, in short, is al- 
Ghazzali' s secret; the very kernel of his doctrine 
of the nature of man. 1 

That an economy of teaching so plain as this was 
so openly used and confessed is one of the greatest 
puzzles in the history of the development of Muslim 
theology. "Ye cannot bear it," we hear again and 
again, and no "now" is added. Through Muslim 
thought runs an intellectual snobbishness, which 
cannot believe that the masses can ever be taught. 
And it is so complacent and self-satisfied that it 
does not hesitate to state itself openly. The people, 
it is implied, must be quite willing to accept this 
limitation. With al-Ghazzali, we have simply an 
economy of teaching, resulting in several stages of 
intellectual truth, with absolute certainty attainable 
in the mystical revelation, open, more or less, to 
all. But when we come to Averroes, the method 
has hardened in his hands into the philosophical 
doctrine of the twofold truth. And there is the addi- 
tional difference that, for al-Ghazzali, all methods 
reached one truth, though with varying degrees of 
spirituality, while between Averroes' philosophical 

' Al-ma$n&n a}-}aghtr, edition of Cairo, A. u. 1303, pp. 5,8, 13. 


and theological truths, there were flat contradictions. 
The one could not be called a spiritualizing of the 

The third term is hardest of all to translate. By 
a curious accident, the word in Arabic which literallv 
should mean "soul" has come to be the nearest 
equivalent for our word "flesh" in the theological 
sense. This word is najs. Etymologically, it is 
closely connected with the idea of "breath," and is 
the same as the Hebrew ntphesh, frequently tran- 
slated in our Bible versions "soul," and sometimes 
"breath," "life," "appetite." The last is primary, 
for the essential idea of the word is life on the side 
of its passions and appetites — it is, in a word, the 
appetitive soul. Of the many meanings, then, which 
najs can have, al-Ghazzali says that two are to our 
purpose. It is used to express the idea which com- 
bines the force of anger and fleshly appetite in man. 
The Arabic word for fleshly appetite (shahwa) can 
be used in either a good or a bad sense. It is 
"truthful" (sddiqa) when it indicates a physical need 
which must be met if the body is to be sound, and 
"lying" (kadhiba) when that is not the case. It is 
used of desire of food, etc., and of sexual appetite. 
This usage is the prevailing one among Sufis, for 
they mean by the najs that which combines in man 
his blameworthy qualities, and they say that man 
must fight against the najs and break it. In this 
way the Prophet used it when he said, "Thy najs, 


which is between thy two sides, is thy worst enemy." 
Here, of course, we have exactly our idea of "the 
flesh." And ascetics, as Sufis are generally, would 
naturally describe all physical appetites as movements 
of the flesh, and regard as a religious duty their sup- 
pression to the limit of possibility. 

The second usage is to indicate that same subtlety 
which has been mentioned already, and which is 
the verity and soul and essence of a man. It is 
indicated when a man says, "I," by which he means 
a spiritual, abiding substance. But this "soul" — 
if we can so call it — can be described in different 
ways according as its states are different. 

When it is submissive to the command of God 
and undisturbed by contending lusts, it is called 
"the soul at rest" (an-nafs al-mutmaHnna) . So God 
addresses it in the Qufan (xxxix, 27), "O thou 
soul at rest, return unto thy Lord, well pleased, 
accepted!" This, of course, can never be said of 
the nafs of the first usage. Its return to God is 
inconceivable, for it belongs to the host of the devil. 
But, secondly, when the state of rest of the soul is 
incomplete and it is still struggling with the lust- 
ful soul, it is called "the upbraiding soul" (an- 
nafs al-lawwama) ; of it God speaks in the Qufan 
(lxxv, 2), "And nay! I swear by the soul that 
upbraids." But, thirdly, if the soul ceases to oppose 
the enticements of the lusts and the summoners of 
the devil, and yields itself to them, it is called " the 


soul that commands to evil" (an-nafs al-ammara 
bis-svP). Thus God puts in the mouth of Joseph in 
the Qufan (xii, 53), "Verily the soul indeed com- 
mands to evil." Yet here, adds al-Ghazzali, we 
may perhaps have the soul of the first usage, i. e., 
that which comprises man's anger and lust; it is 
altogether blameworthy, while the soul of the second 
usage is praiseworthy as the very essence of man 
which knows God and all knowable things. 

The fourth term is c aql, by which Arabic writers 
on philosophy have generally rendered the Greek 
povt. For the present purpose it may be rendered 
"intelligence," and has two usages. It means, in 
the first instance, knowledge of the true nature of 
things, and is an expression for the knowledge whose 
seat is the heart. And in the second instance, it is 
that which perceives knowledge, thus the heart 
itself, namely that subtlety of which we have spoken. 
Thus there stands in a tradition, "The first thing 
that God created was Intelligence (al- c aql)." c Aql, 
then, means either the quality of intelligence in one 
who perceives, or the percipient mind itself in which 
that quality inheres. 

Elsewhere' further subdivides the 
knowledge of the heart into three: (1) axiomatic 
knowledge; (2) knowledge from experience; (3) 
prudence, the last fruit of experience. Thus c aql 
seems to be used both for 6 vow and for to voovpevop. 

' Ihyd, Vol. 1, pp. 4S» IT- 


These, then, are four terms and behind each lie 
two ideas. Behind qalb there is the physical heart; 
behind ruh the physical vapor which issues from the 
physical heart; behind nafs there is the sensual 
being, the "flesh;" behind <vql there is knowledge. 
But there is also a fifth idea, that knowing and per- 
ceiving subtlety in man, which lies behind all four, 
and to which the four terms apply in common. It 
is called specially the heart, because its first connec- 
tion is with the heart, though it rules and uses all the 
body. Its seat is there as the seat of God is on his 
throne in heaven, while he rules the universe. 

But having fixed these terms, the next point is the 
equipment and working of this "heart." God has 
said, 1 "And who knoweth the armies of thy Lord 
save himself?" To God belong in hearts and 
spirits and in all the worlds serried armies whose 
nature and number none knoweth save he ; the world 
is full of armies in conflict; but all are his. So 
in the human heart there are armies, and some 
are to our present purpose. Of these are two, an 
army that can be seen with fleshly eyes, and one that 
only eyes of the spirit can see. Of both the heart is 
lord, and they to it are servants. The visible are 
such as the hand, the foot, the eye — all the organs 
of the body within and without. They are fashioned 
for obedience to the heart and cannot disobey it, 
even as the angels are related to God, with the one 

1 Qur. lxxiv, 34. 


difference that the angels know their own obedience, 
and the eyelid, for example, has no knowledge of 
itself when it opens or shuts. Thus we are to 
understand that all things in earth and heaven, 
material and spiritual, belong alike to the armies of 
God. And of these armies the heart has need as a 
vehicle and as provision on the journey for which it 
was created, namely, the journey to God. " I cre- 
ated not mankind and Jinn," saith Allah, "save to 
serve me. " * That is the end ; the vehicle is the body ; 
the provision is knowledge; and it is not attained and 
stored save through sound action. Thus the creature 
cannot reach God except by inhabiting the body; 
it is a necessary stage on the journey; a seed-field 
of the world to come; therefore the world is called 
ad-Dunyi, the nearer one, because it is the first of 
those stages. " A wanderer is man from his birth," 
quotes the commentator from C A1I; and from an 
unnamed poet, "He who is in this world, though 
city-pent, is a traveler, and his journey goes on, though 
he knows it not." 

The body, then, is the vehicle, or boat, by which 
man reaches this world. So it is his duty to care 
for it by bringing to it that which it needs by way 
of food, etc., and by warding off from it what may 
hurt it or destroy it. The heart, therefore, needs two 
armies to provide food for the body — an internal, 
the appetite, and an external, the organs of the body. 

■ Qur. li, 56. 


The needed appetites are created in the heart; and 
the needed organs, the instruments of the appetites, 
are created in the body. Similarly, for driving 
away destructive things, there is anger in the heart 
and its instruments in the body. Further, if food 
were not known, what would avail the appetite for 
food ? The heart has need, therefore, of two other 
armies — one internal, perceptions of hearing, seeing, 
smelling, etc., and one external, the eye, the ear, the 
nose, etc. This could be developed at great length, 
as al-Ghazzali does in his Book of Thanksgiving. 
But, in short, the armies of the heart can be divided 
into three classes: a class which excites either to the 
obtaining of that which is necessary, or to the repel- 
ling of that which is hurtful and which is often called 
the will; a class which moves the limbs, scattered 
equally through them, often called power; and thirdly, 
a class which perceives and recognizes, being settled 
in the individual organs of sense, and which is often 
called knowledge and perception. Corresponding to 
each of these is an external army, organs of flesh and 
blood, adapted to be their instruments. But this last, 
which belongs to the physical, sensible world, is not 
our subject now. 

Further, this third class divides, on one hand, into 
the five senses inhabiting the five external organs of 
sense and on another, into five internal senses which 
inhabit the hollows of the brain. Thus, if a man 
closes his eyes after seeing something, he perceives 


the image of it in himself; this is the picturing 
power. Then this image remains with him by 
reason of something that preserves it; this is the 
memory. Then he reflects on what he remembers 
and makes of it new combinations. Then he 
recalls to memory what he has forgotten. Then 
he gathers into a compound the ideas of the sen- 
suous impressions on his imagination through 
the "general sense." Thus, within the brain are 
this "general sense," the imaginative power, the 
reflective power, the recollective power, and the 
memory. 1 

This psychological scheme al-Ghazzall goes on to 
expand and apply in a series of allegories. The 
armies of anger and fleshly appetite are sometimes 
completely submissive to the heart, and that sub- 
mission aids it on its way to eternal felicity; and 
sometimes they revolt and even overcome it and 
subdue it, and thus destroy it and its success. The 
heart, too, has yet another army, knowledge and 
wisdom and reflection — the host of God — and this 
army assists it against the other two armies which 
sometimes join the hosts of the devil. If the heart 
then does not seek such assistance but gives up the 
struggle, it perishes of a certainty. Such is the state 
of most men; their intelligence is so subdued by 
their appetites that it is devoted to devising ways of 
satisfying these appetites. The soul of man, then, 

> On this psychological scheme cf. above pp. 72 ff. 


in his body, may be likened to a king in his kingdom. 
The members and powers of the body are like the 
artisans and laborers; the intelligent reflective 
power is like the wise wazlr; the physical appetites 
are like the evil slave who brings provisions; and 
anger and indignation are like the police force. The 
purveying slave is a liar, deceitful, guileful, vile, who 
poses as a sincere adviser. His custom is to set 
himself against the true wazir at every moment, but 
the safety of the kingdom lies in the rejection of his 
advice and in the keeping of him and the police 
force in their fit places. The slave, especially, can 
be subdued by subjecting him to the admonitions 
and rule of the police. But each in turn can be 
played off against the other. So, exactly, the fleshly 
appetites and the power of indignation can be used 
to subject one another. 

But the body of man can also be likened to a city, 
and the intellect to its king. The senses, within 
and without, are the people. Against it wars the 
"soul commanding to evil" (the fleshly lusts and 
anger) and strives to destroy the people. We have 
the leaguer of Mansoul in Bunyan's Holy War. 
So the body is like a castle on a hostile frontier, and 
the soul as its keeper must ever be on guard against 
the forces of evil. God will take account with it 
at the last day for the folk that have been in its 
charge. This is the truest jihad, or "holy warfare," 
and so Muhammad said, "We return from the lesser 


jihad to the greater," from contending with unbe- 
lievers to contending with ourselves. 

Or man's intellect can be likened to a horseman 
who has gone a hunting with his fleshly appetite as 
his horse and his anger as his dog. If then the horse- 
man be skilled, and his horse trained and his dog 
broken and accustomed, his hunting will prosper. 
But if he be awkward and his horse restive and his 
dog vicious, then he can neither rule his horse nor 
guide his dog, and he himself is rather worthy of 
blame than of success in his hunting. And what 
this means in the regimen of the soul is plain. 

In these three allegories the whole structure of 
man is reckoned with and used. Everything, from 
the lowest appetites, has its place and purpose. The 
scheme is not one of absolute asceticism, but of 
balanced development of all man's being. Nor does 
this so far hold of man alone. Up to this point it 
might apply to all animals, for all have these appe- 
tites and senses, internal and external. Even a 
sheep sees a wolf coming and has an inward sense 
of fear and flees from it. Apparently al-Ghazzall 
would assign to the lower animals some power, even, 
of reflection, of making combinations, but at that his 
commentator protests. 

What in man, however, distinguishes him from 
the lower animals and makes possible his approach 
to God is a particular kind of knowledge and of 
will. The knowledge is that about religion and the 


world to come and about the intellectual essences; 
these all lie behind the objects of sense, and are 
metaphysical. To this belongs, also, necessary uni- 
versal knowledge, as when a man judges by his intel- 
lect that an individual cannot be in two places at 
one time, even though he has not observed this of all 
individuals. And the will is that produced when a 
man observes by his intellect the consequences of 
an act and how to reach what is really best. A 
desire for that is then aroused in him, and he gives 
himself to it and wills it. This, too, the lower ani- 
mals know nothing of; they seek the immediate, 
sensuous good and are heedless of consequences. 

This kind of knowledge, then, and this kind of 
will distinguish man from the other animals. Yet 
even he must grow up to these things; the child at 
first is as the beasts that perish. He gains them in 
two steps. The first is that he grasps in an external 
fashion all that axiomatic, necessary knowledge 
which is intuitively perceived, such as the impossi- 
bility of this and the possibility of that ; but of spec- 
ulative knowledge he has only, so far, the near 
possibility and not the actuality. It is as though he 
knew the elements of writing but could not put 
together words which would convey a meaning. 
Then, secondly, there comes to him knowledge 
acquired by experience and reflection, and he has 
a store of it on which he can draw when he wills. 
Now he knows all about writing and can write 


what he pleases. In this stage there are all manner 
of degrees, reaching through the ordinary experiences 
of men to the direct vision of saints, and finally to 
the divine revelation to prophets. To some, the 
ascent is slow; to others fast; but to the knowledge 
concerning God there are no bounds. Each knows 
his own degree, but cannot know the essence of that 
which is beyond him. He may believe in prophecy 
and be certain that there are prophets; but unless 
he is a prophet, he cannot know the essence of 
prophetship. All this comes freely of the grace and 
bounty of God, who is ever ready to hear and 
answer. If the pure yearn to meet him, he yearns 
more grievously still to meet them. If they advance 
to him a span, he advances a cubit. There is no 
niggardliness on his part, nothing hinders men but 
the darkness of their own hearts and the curtains 
which the cares of this world draw. 

Man, therefore, is between the beasts and the 
angels. But his true "differentia" is his knowl- 
edge of the essences of things. He, then, who 
employs all his members and powers by seeking aid 
from them in the attaining of knowledge and well- 
executed labor, he has become like the angels and 
worthy to be joined with them and called one of 
them. But if he turn to the body and its appetites, 
then he will become stupid as an ox, greedy as a pig, 
fawning as a dog or a cat, malicious as a camel, 
insolent as a leopard, or shifty as a fox. Or he may 


join all together and become a very devil. In a 
word, all his members and senses can be used either 
to bring him to God and his eternal salvation, or 
to plunge him in destruction. He must walk the 
way of the world as a passer-by, not as a dweller; 
this world is a bridge to the next. 

Thus, there mingle in every man four properties, 
and he can be described in four ways. He may show 
the qualities of ravenous beasts, or of the lower ani- 
mals, or of devils, or of sages. There are in him 
anger, physical appetites, deviltry, and lordship. The 
first two have already been sufficiently explained; on 
the two latter al-Ghazzall dwells with a whimsical 
humor which suggests large experience. In the soul 
of man there is a certain lordly part. This belongs 
apparently to the rilh of man, for, in explanation, 
Qufan, xvii, 87, is again quoted: "Say, 'The spirit 
{rilh) is of the affair of my Lord.' " This is because 
he claims for himself lordship, and loves rule and 
superiority and distinction and exclusiveness in all 
things, and being single in rule and removed from 
servileness and humbleness. And he longs to learn 
all sciences; claims for himself science and knowl- 
edge and comprehension of the true natures of things; 
and rejoices when thought wise and sorrows when 
thought ignorant. Comprehension of all verities and 
seeking of rule by force over all creatures describe 
the quality, lordship; for that man's desire is strong. 

There we have evidently a fundamental analysis 


of the absolute sage, as al-Ghazzall had known 
him — an outgrowth of the spirit of rule, developed 
through lust of knowledge. 1 But here is the other, 
the Satanic side. It is in man through his having, 
besides the physical appetites and anger, a quality 
of distinguishing which is not in the lower animals. 
So he becomes peculiarly evil, through using this 
quality of discriminative rationality to search out 
fashions of wickedness, and attains his evil ends by 
guile and deceit. 

Under the hide of every man, therefore — such is 
al-Ghazzali's phrase — there is a pig, a dog, a devil, 
and a sage; and it is his problem to see to it that 
the sage exposes the wiles of the devil, and keeps 
the pig and the dog in subjection by playing them 
off, one against the other. So everything may go 
smoothly, and the wrath of man be made to praise 
God. The quality of lordship, thus fulfilling its 
best purpose, will turn to wisdom, knowledge, 
insight, and have a true claim to precedence; the 
pig quality will turn to chastity, patience, temper- 
ance, gentleness, reverence; the dog quality to 
courage, generosity, clemency, dignity. But most 
frequently this does not happen, and the strange 
thing is how men will blame the worshipers of idols, 
and yet if the veil were removed from them and their 
essential state revealed, they would see themselves 
bowing down to pigs and dogs. 

1 Cf. "Life," Journal oj American Oriental Society, Vol. XX, 
p. 105, and p. 194 above. 


Another allegory describing the heart as a mirror 
exposed to all manner of influences follows in detail. 
But I need not give it here, though there is an inter- 
esting passage describing how the thought (dhikr) 
of God "rests the heart,"' and leads to the unveiling 
which leads to the great felicity, the meeting with 
God himself. So Augustine said, " Our hearts are 
restless till they rest in thee." 

But when, in his next section, al-Ghazzali comes 
to consider the heart as the instrument of knowledge, 
he makes more elaborate use of the same allegory. 
This heart, which controls all the members, is the 
locus of knowledge as to the essences of known 
things. Its relation to them is that of a mirror to the 
changing forms of the material world. In the one 
case, you have the mirror, the form of the thing to 
be reflected and the reflection; in the other j the 
heart, the form of the essence of the thing perceived 
and the production and presence of the latter in the 
heart. "Knower" is an expression for the heart 
in which is the likeness of these perceived essences. 
"Known" is an expression for the likeness which 
results in the heart. But five reasons may prevent 
a mirror reflecting : It may be unformed and unpol- 
ished ; it may be dirty ; it may be turned away from 
the thing to be reflected; there may be a curtain 
over it ; there may be ignorance as to the direction of 
the thing to be reflected. So, too, the mirror of the 

1 Qur. xiii, 28. 


heart. It may be unformed and incapable, like the 
heart of a child. It may be soiled by sin. This is 
a stain that can never be perfectly done away with; 
subsequent good deeds may remove it, but even 
then, without it, the heart would have been still 
brighter. Thirdly, the heart may be formed and 
capable; it may be pure and bright; but it may 
not be turned in the direction of the truth which it 
should reflect, because it is immersed in the details 
of actions of piety and obedience and in zeal for its 
own purification. Thus the heart is not really 
occupied with God, but with the means of reaching 
him, and by these means it is defeated of the end. 
Fourthly, the heart may be veiled by some inveterate 
prejudice of traditional faith. This is the case with 
most scholastic theologians and those who zealously 
uphold definite schools. Even many of the pious, 
when they think of heavenly things, are limited by 
their early training and do not reach unveiled, direct 
vision. Fifthly, there may be ignorance as to the 
direction in which the desired vision must be sought. 
No knowledge, except that which is innate, is gained 
save through combining such preceding knowledge 
as is of the same nature. Ignorance, then, as to this 
preceding knowledge and how to use it is a fatal 
but common defect. We must always put together 
two pieces of knowledge to gain a third. Here the 
syllogism is evidently thought of, but al-Ghazzali 
illustrates with the, for us, odd but, in Arabic, 


common illustration that you must use two mirrors 
if you want to see the back of your head. Just as 
devious and seemingly perplexed ways must be fol- 
lowed in gaining any knowledge, even that of the 

Without these five hindrances, then, the heart 
attains to knowledge of the essences of things, for it, 
by its created nature (fitra) is adapted thereto. It 
is a divine and noble thing, differing from all other 
substances of the world in this peculiarity and 
nobility. Of it God has said, "We offered the trust 
to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, then 
they refused to bear it and feared it; but man bore 
it." 1 Thus the heart of man is different from the 
heavens and the earth, in that it can bear the bur- 
den of God's trust, that is knowledge of and unity 
with God. The heart of every human being is, in 
its origin, fitted for and equal to that, but often 
hindered by these five causes. Muhammad said 
"Every child is born according to God's plan 
( c alb-l-fitra) ; it is only the parents who make it a 
Jew or a Christian or a Magian." And again he 
said, "If it were not that the devils were hovering 
round the hearts of men, verily they would behold 
the heavenly kingdom (al-malakut)" So, too, he 
was asked, "Where is God? in the earth or the 
heavens ? " He replied, " In the hearts of his believing 
creatures." And a tradition represents God as saying, 

1 Qur. xxxiii, ja. 


" My earth cannot contain me, nor my heaven, but 
the tender and tranquil heart of my believing 
creature contains me." 

In this vision, then, all things are revealed. 
c Umar said, "My heart saw my Lord, when he 
had raised the veil through godly fear." For whom- 
soever the veil rises between him and God, to 
him the form of the world of sense and of the 
heavenly kingdom appear in his heart, and he sees a 
paradise, the breadth of but part of which is as the 
heavens and the earth. This is simple, for "the 
heavens and the earth " is only an expression for the 
world of the senses, and it, wide as it is, is finite. 
But the world of the heavenly kingdom consists of 
those secrets which are hidden from the sight of the 
eyes and are perceived by spiritual vision only. It is 
true that that of it which shines in the heart is a 
limited amount; but it, in itself, and in relation to 
the knowledge of God, has no limit. The worlds, 
then, of sense and the kingdom, taken together, are 
called the Divine Presence, because that Presence 
encompasses all existing things. Nothing exists 
except God and his works and his realm, and his 
creatures are part of his works. Further, what 
appears of this to the heart is Paradise itself, 
according to some; this is the basis of the claim to 
Paradise by those who see it. 

In this way, then, knowledge and purification of 
the heart and vision are bound together. "Whom 


God wills to guide," says the Qur^an (vi, 125), "he 
opens his breast to Islam." And again (xxxix, 23), 
"Shall he, then, whose breast God has opened to 
Islam, and he then follows a light from his 
Lord .... ?" The beginning is with God and 
his beneficence. Thence come increase of faith, 
light, knowledge, and comprehension of and in 
God, nearness to God, who is near to all, a propor- 
tioned amount of certainty and assurance in order; 
of these each has his share, reaching to the point 
where there is clear knowledge that naught exists 
but God, and that "Everything is perishing save 
his face." 1 It is, therefore, natural that to this 
revelation and faith there should be degrees. These 
are three: (1) the faith of the populace, a purely 
traditional faith; (2) the faith of scholastics, which 
is partly deductive and not far removed from that 
of the populace; (3) the faith of those who know by 
experience and have seen for themselves in the light 
of certainty. 

But the commentator further subdivides these 
on the basis of al-Ghazzall's statements elsewhere. 
Under (1) come three others : (a) Faith because of 
absolute trust in the narrator, as of children in their 
parents or teachers; (b) Faith because of accompany- 
ing circumstances which are not really decisive; 
(c) Faith because the belief appeals to and corres- 
ponds with the nature of the believer. Under (2) 

1 Qur. xxviii, 88. 


come also three others; (a) Faith because of exhaust- 
ive and complete proof, worked out step by step in 
detail to the very roots; (b) Faith because of verbal, 
descriptive proofs, based upon concessions believed 
in because generally accepted by the greatest scholars 
and because there would be disgrace in rejecting 
them; (c) Faith on mere rhetorical proofs, commonly 
used and accepted. 

Finally, under (3), come also three subdivisions: 
(a) Belief that all besides God, whenever its essence 
is considered, qua its essence, has no existence, nay 
its existence is borrowed from something; and that 
this borrowed existence has no subsistence in itself 
but in something else, and that this relation of 
borrowing is a pure metaphor; whenever this verity 
is revealed to a creature in the light of certainty, he 
knows that it is a possession to its possessor, for 
him alone; no one partakes with him in it. (b) 
They mount from the level of metaphor to the peak 
of reality and complete their ascent and see with 
vision of their eyes that there is nought in existence 
except God, and that " Everything is perishing save 
his face." 1 This does not mean that it comes to 
perish at some time or other, but that it is perishing 
from eternity and to eternity and cannot be other- 
wise thought of; further, that everything except 
him, when its essence is considered, qua essence, is 

1 Qur. xxviii, 88; «'aj7t-"face," "aspect," "direction;" in 
what follows there is a play on the two meanings "face" and 


a pure nonentity. And whenever it is considered 
from the aspect which brings it into existence at 
first, it is seen to exist, not in its essence but from 
the aspect which appertains to that which brings it 
into existence. So that which exists is only the 
aspect of God. Everything has two aspects, one 
to itself and one to its Lord. As regards the aspect 
to itself, it is a nonentity; but as regards the aspect 
of God it is an entity. Then since nothing exists 
except God, and his aspect, and since everything is 
perishing save his aspect from eternity to eternity, 
those who know this stand in no need of the coming 
of the day of resurrection to hear the cry of the 
creator. "Whose is the rule to-day? It is Allah's, 
the One, the Conqueror!" 1 Nay, that cry is never 
out of their ears. 

There follows an explanation on the basis of this, 
of the Muslim war-cry Allahu akbar, "Allah is 
greater," i. e., than any other, a cry derived probably 
from pre-Muslim times and a constant stumbling 
block to Muslim exegetes. Here it is said that it 
means that he is greater than that "greater" can 
be said of him in any sense of relationship or 

Lastly, (c) after they have ascended to the heaven 
of reality, they agree that they have not seen in 
existence aught but the One, the Real (al-haqq). 
To some this state is knowledge, both experimental 

> Qur. x\, 16. 


and scientific (Hrfdn and Him), while to others it is 
a passing taste. Multiplicity is driven from them 
in totality, and they are plunged in absolute solitari- 
ness. Their reason is absorbed completely and they 
become bewildered; no capacity remaining for the 
thought of aught but God; or for the thought, even, 
of themselves. So there is nothing with them but 
God, and they are drunken with a drunkenness 
which rules in place of reason. Then one of them 
may say, "I am the Real (al-haqq)," and another, 
"The praise is mine, how mighty am I!" and 
another, "There is nothing in this cloak but God." 
But the speech of lovers in a state of drunkenness 
hides and does not narrate. So when their drunken- 
ness has passed from them, and they have returned 
to the rule of reason — God's weighing balance upon 
earth — they recognize that that was not real union 
(ittihdd) but only resembled union. When, then, this 
state prevails, it is called, in relation to him under 
it, "passing away" (fand), or rather, the passing 
away of passing away. For the subject passes away 
from himself, and passes away from his passing 
away; he does not feel himself nor the lack of 
feeling himself. If he felt the lack of his feeling, 
he would feel himself. This state, in relation to 
him who is plunged in it, is called, metaphorically, 
"union" (ittihdd), but its real name is "unifying" 
(tawhid; i. e., perception of and belief in God's 


So far the commentator, following al-Ghazzail's 
tabulation elsewhere. I now return to the simpler 
division. An illustration of it, says al-Ghazzall, may 
be drawn from the degrees of your knowledge that 
such and such a man is in his house. First, some 
one in whom you have absolute trust may tell you so ; 
you believe it on his authority. The like of this in 
religion is a saving faith, but it will not assure a 
place near to God in Paradise. This, I may add, 
is a very vexed point in Islam. Some have even 
held that no faith can save which is not based on 
elaborate proof. 1 But, secondly, you may hear the 
voice of that person in his house, and may deduce 
from that his presence there. This is more personal 
and certain, but even in this case, you may have 
mistaken the voice. But thirdly, when you enter his 
house and see him there, you know assuredly his 
presence. This is like the religious knowledge of 
angels and saints; yet it, too, has degrees, for you 
may see this man with greater or less distinctness 
according to the light and other conditions. 

The knowledge, then, that is in the heart may be 
subdivided in different ways: first, into intellectual 
and religious; the religious comes by tradition from 
prophets, but the intellectual is either axiomatic or 
acquired through study and deduction; the acquired 
knowledge, finally, is either of the things of this 

1 Cf. Macdonald, Development of Muslim Theology, etc., pp. 
316, 318. 


world or of those of the world to come. But it must 
not be thought that intellectual and religious knowl- 
edge, or that the intellect as an organ and tradition 
as a source of knowledge, are opposed to one another. 
Each stands in need of the other; and the wise man 
is he who combines both. Intellectual knowledge 
may be regarded as food, and religious knowledge as 
medicine; each has its place, and only the intel- 
lectually or the religiously blind is ignorant of this. 
It is true that the two kinds of acquired knowledge 
— that of this world and that of the world to come — 
are mutually opposed. He who devotes himself to 
the one is generally ignorant of the other. The 
power of the intellect cannot in general extend equally 
over both. Only the prophets whom God has sent to 
instruct men as to gaining their subsistence in this 
world and their happiness in the world to come can 
cover all knowledge. For this God assists them with 
the Holy Spirit and with divine power. 

Here, again, is made very plain that the unity of 
Islam is absolute. All spheres of knowledge are 
controlled by the Prophet, and he is the guider and 
instructor of men in every department. There can 
be no rendering to Caesar and to God, nor could 
Muhammad ever have said, "Who hath made me 
a ruler and divider over you ?" That, in Islam, is 
precisely what the Prophet is for. 

It is natural, then, that all processes of revelation 
— of a forcible breaking in from the Unseen — should 


be of the first importance, not only for the devotional 
life, but for the theory and practice of knowledge. 
To such violent in-breakings we shall turn in the 
next lecture. 



Knowledge which is not axiomatic but is in the 
mind at one time and not at another comes in 
al-Ghazzali's classification in two ways. One is 
by study and deduction. It is called reflection and 
meditation, and is the method of the c Ulama, the 
formal authorities on theology and law in general. 
The other comes with a sudden attack upon the 
heart, as though something were cast (qadhafa) into 
the heart without its knowledge. The creature does 
not know how it comes to him, or whence, or 
the reason why that knowledge is granted to him. 
It is simply a contemplation of the world of angels 
which he finds in his heart. The name given to this 
form of revelation when it is granted to saints is 
ilhdm, which means literally "a causing to swallow 
or gulp down." Once it is used in the Qufan 
(xci, 8), but whether in the primitive or the theo- 
logical sense is obscure. The earliest exegetes take 
it in both (Tabari, Tajslr, Vol. XXX, pp. 115 f.), and 
in later Muslim usage the word came to indicate, 
normally, the minor inspiration of waits, or saints. 
It is significant for the external violence with which 
this knowledge is supposed to be given. The 
major inspiration, that of prophets, is called wahy, 
(literally "sending," "writing" a message)— fixed 



already in that theological sense in the Qufan — but the 
phenomenon itself is felt to be essentially the same. 

The result, then, is that we have the heart of man 
so equipped that the essence of all things can be 
disclosed in it as in a mirror. Over against it is the 
Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahjuz) on which is 
engraved all that God has decreed until the day of 
resurrection. This would be reflected in man's 
heart, if it were not for the veils of sense which hang 
between. Yet these may be moved aside, as it were, 
either by the hand or blown by the wind of God's 
favor. When that happens, part of what is written 
on the tablet is disclosed. Sometimes this takes 
place in sleep when the future is revealed; the 
process is complete only at death. And sometimes, 
during waking life, the veil is lifted by secret favor 
from God, and there shine on the heart from behind 
it some of the hidden things. At one time this 
happens in a single flash and at another continuously 
to a certain degree; but this last is very rare. The 
difference between knowledge acquired by study and 
deduction and this ilham knowledge lies purely in the 
removing of the veil — a matter outside of man's will; 
the nature, the place, and the cause of the knowledge 
are the same in both cases. Between ilham and wahy 
the only difference is that the angel messenger, who 
casts the knowledge into the heart, can be seen by 
the prophet. In all cases the knowledge is given 
by angels. So God said, " And it is not for a human 


being that God should speak with him save by 
revelation {wahy), or from behind the veil, or [save] 
that he should send a messenger and so reveal in his 
ear what he wills." 1 

The commentator adds a brief statement of the 
kinds of knowledge: (i) knowledge axiomatic or 
directly from impact on the senses; (2) knowledge 
by consideration of premises, either intellectual or 
of the senses; (3) knowledge from the report of men, 
either by hearing or reading; (4) knowledge from 
inspiration (wahy) either by the tongue of an angel 
who is seen, or by hearing his speech without seeing 
him, or by having it cast into the mind while awake 
or in dream." 

■ Qur. xlii, 50. 

* The following table may perhaps make al-Ghazzali's episte- 
mology somewhat clearer: 

Knowledge (al-^Hm) 

Religious (ad-diniya, ash-shartya) Intellectual (al- c aqliyo) 

Granted to prophets through 
waJpy; to saints through ilh&m; 
received by others on authority 
and tradition (bit-laqlld was- 

I . I 

Acquired by study and deduction Axiomatic 

(al-muklasiba bit-ta c allum (ad-^arHriya) 

I I 

Dealing with this world Dealing with the other world 

(aa-dunyawiya) (al->tkhirawiya) 


The Sufis, then, turn rather to knowledge gained 
by ilham than to that acquired by study. Books 
and proofs they shun. Their path (tariq), rather, is 
to cleave to spiritual striving, to remove blameworthy 
qualities, to sever all ties, to advance with the utmost 
zeal toward God. Whenever these things take place, 
God takes charge of the heart of his creature, and 
illumines it with knowledge, and opens the breast 
of the seeker so that he accepts guidance and 
trusts God; there is revealed to him the secret of 
the heavenly kingdom (al-malakuf) , and there is 
cleared away from the surface of his heart the veil 
of error, and so the essences of divine things shine 
in it. All that he has to do is to prepare himself by 
simple purifying, by showing zeal joined to pure 
will, by thirsting and watching and expecting. If 
any turn thus to God, God will turn to him. 

Practically, the course which is advised is as 
follows. Let the seeker sever all the ties of this 
world and empty it from his heart. Let him cut 
away all anxiety for family, wealth, children, home; 
for knowledge, rule, ambition. Let him reduce his 
heart to a state in which the existence of anything 
and its non-existence are the same to him. Then 
let him sit alone in some corner, limiting his religious 
duties to what are absolutely incumbent, and not 
occupying himself either with reciting the Qur^an 
or considering its meaning or with books of religious 
traditions or anything of the like. And let him see 


to it that nothing save God most High enters his 
mind. Then as he sits alone in solitude, let him not 
cease saying continuously with his tongue, "Allah, 
Allah," keeping his thought on it. At last he will 
reach a state when the motion of his tongue will 
cease, and it will seem as though the word flowed 
from it. Let him persevere in this until all trace of 
motion is removed from his tongue, and he finds 
his heart persevering in the thought. Let him 
still persevere until the form of the word, its letters 
and shape, is removed from his heart, and there 
remain the idea alone, as though clinging to his 
heart, inseparable from it. So far all is dependent 
on his will and choice; his continuance, too, in this 
state and his warding off the whisperings of Satan 
are also thus dependent; but to bring the mercy of 
God does not stand in his will or choice. He has 
now laid himself bare to the breathings of that mercy, 
and nothing now remains but to await what God will 
open to him, as God has done after this manner to 
prophets and saints. If he follows the above course, 
he may be sure that the light of the real will shine 
out in his heart. At first unstable, like a flash of 
lightning, it turns and returns; though sometimes 
it hangs back. And if it returns, sometimes it abides 
and sometimes it is momentary. And if it abides, 
sometimes its abiding is long, and sometimes short. 
And sometimes appearances like to the first show 
themselves, coming one after the other, and some- 


times all is of one kind. The attainments of the 
saints of God in this respect cannot be reckoned, just 
as their differences of character cannot be reckoned. 

That a state of auto-hypnosis, with very curious 
consequences, could be produced by the abstrac- 
tion, physical and mental, above described and by 
the mechanical repetition of a single phrase seems 
tolerably certain. There is the case on record of 
Tennyson who, by the repetition of his own name, 
could bring himself into a similar dreamy state with 
resultant ideas which he regarded as veridical. 1 
The like performance, also, of Mr. Kipling's "Kim" 
is undoubtedly a fair representation of Indian prac- 
tice. 2 That the boy of Indian training and the 
Englishman should endeavor to reach the Unseen 
through emphasis on their own personalities, while 
the Muslim does the same by the name of Allah, 
is certainly significant. The first probably connects 
with the pantheism which sees the All as God, and 
the other with that which sees God as the All. 

We have already had another example of this in 
Lane's Persian friend (p. 208 above). He used 
as his formula not Allah, but La ilaha illallah, 
"There is no God but Allah." The Sayyid Mur- 
tada, al-Ghazzali's commentator, here remarks 
upon the different value of these two phrases. 

1 James, Varieties oj Religious Experience, pp. 383 f.; Tenny 
son, Memoirs, Vol. II, p. 473. 
» Kim, chap. xi. 


Allah is the formula used by those with whom 
drawing (jadhba) on God's side predominates, while 
the longer phrase is used by those with whom their 
own journeying (suluk) toward God comes first. In 
the later development of the darwish fraternities 
this distinction between jadhba and suluk went 
much farther. Those who preferred orderly progress 
under definite law were saliks, "journeyers," while 
those who embarked without restraint on the broad 
sea of their feeling of God's drawing them and 
attracting them to himself were tnajdhubs, "at- 
tracted." The one party held fast to a theological 
statement — half of the fundamental Muslim creed — 
while the other plunged into those subjective dream- 
ings of Allah which his name alone might provoke. 
It is to be remembered that Allah, for Muslims, is 
the proper name of God like Jehovah, and not a 
common noun like the word God. In the end, the 
distinctions issued in the now primary division 
between the darwlshes who observe the outward 
usages of the Muslim faith and those who have 
dropped all such observance, although they con- 
tinue to call themselves Muslims. The one class is 
called, in the Persian phrase, ba-shar*, "with law," 
and the other, bl-shar 1 , "without law." Those 
bi-shar* not only reject the ritual law, considering 
themselves raised above such requirements, but are 
also, in teaching and practice, simple antinomians. 
This, of course, was very far from al-Ghazzali's 


teaching, nor, certainly, has his commentator any 
such distinction here in mind. 

The commentator now enters upon some further 
details of interest. The method Qarlqa) here laid 
down by al-Ghazza.lI is traced back on two lines of 
teaching descent to the Prophet himself. It had 
also reached the commentator in a similar way from 
one of al-Ghazzali's contemporaries. But the name 
by which it is known is the Naqshbandite method, 
from a certain much later Muhammad an-Naqsh- 
bandl, who founded the order of Naqshbandite 
darwishes, with this as their rule, and died in a. h. 
791 (a. d. 1389). It was not until more than fifty 
years after al-Ghazzali's death that any still existent 
darwlsh fraternities were founded as continuous 

These authorities all agree that the essence of the 
method is that the aspirant should abide in thought 
continuously in the presence of the Reality (al-haqq, 
meaning Allah), without perception of anything else 
and heedless, through the existence of Allah, of 
being in his presence. This can happen only through 
operation of the divine drawing and is most power- 
fully aided by companionship with a shaykh who 
is drawn in the same way. They say, also, that it 
can be attained either by this companionship alone, 
or by thought (dhikr) of Allah, or by contempla- 
tion (muraqaba). 

1. The thought of God (dhikr) is expressed by 


the phrase La ildha illd-lldh, "There is no God 
but Allah," and its effect is part denial and part 
assertion. The first phrase is denial, and with it 
there is banished the existence of humanity; the 
second phrase is assertion, and there appears with 
it one of the effects worked by the divine drawing. 
This effect differs according to the preparation. 
In the case of some the first effect to appear is dis- 
tance {ghayba) from all but God; in the case of 
others the result is "thankful praise" (shukr) and 
distance and, thereafter, the existence of non- 
existence is assured to him, and, finally, he is ennobled 
with complete "passing away" (jand). Another 
expounder took Qur., xviii, 23, "And remember 
thy Lord when thou forgettest," and explained, 
"when thou forgettest other than him; then thou 
forgettest thyself; then thou forgettest thy remem- 
bering in thy remembering; then thou forgettest 
in Allah's remembering thee, all thy remembering." 
The loftiest and most complete of the stages is 
"passing away" (jand), when there does not remain 
to the traveler information concerning anything save 
Allah. The object of this school is the beholding of 
Allah — the reality — just as though you saw him; 
the habit of being present with him is called " behold- 
ing" {mushdhada), and this takes place through the 

2. "Contemplation" is the easiest of the methods 
and leads most directly to God. It is scrutiny of the 


holy idea, lofty beyond limit and without like, which 
is understood from the blessed name Allah without 
the intermediary of any expressions, Arabic or Per- 
sian or otherwise. After the understanding comes 
the holding of that idea in the imagination and the 
facing with all the forces and perceptions toward the 
physical heart and continuing that and taking pains 
in clinging to it until the taking of pains departs, and 
that becomes a habit. If this is difficult, let the seeker 
image that idea as a wide light encompassing all 
existences, seen and known. Then let him set this 
over against his inner eye and, holding it fast, turn 
with all his forces and perceptions to the physical 
heart, until the inner eye be strengthened and the 
form depart; and the appearance of the sought-for 
idea thereupon be firm. On account of the greater 
ease and immediacy of this method al-Ghazzall 
limited himself to describing it above. It leads, 
also, directly to the miraculous powers of waits as 
God's representatives. By it, too, is made possible 
the control of thoughts and, by divine gift, the 
power of looking into others and illuminating their 
inner being. When it is a habit, there results con- 
tinuance of union with God and receiving of his 
speech; this is the idea behind the words, "joining" 
(jam c ) and "receiving" (qabul). 

3. The method connected with a shaykh has the 
same advantage as lies in (1), that of the "thought" 
(dhikr) of God, only companionship with the shaykh 


helps to bring forth companions]! ip with God, who 
is "thought of." The seeker ought, as much as 
possible, to preserve the effect which he perceives to 
result from his companionship with his shaykh. If 
there is any break, he returns to that companionship 
until the effect returns. This he does, time after 
time, until that mode becomes a habit. Sometimes 
there results from this companionship such love and 
attraction that the figure of the shaykh is held in the 
imagination, and there is a turning to the physical 
heart with it until distance (ghayba) and passing 
away from the self (jana) result. 

To this method one of the later shaykhs made an 
addition which he said had been taught him and 
urged upon him by al-Khadir. This was the re- 
straining of the breath in the course of "remem- 
bering" and "contemplation." He made it one of 
the fundamentals of the method and said that labor 
should be given to a certain constraint between two 
breaths so that the breath should not go in or out 
without attention. This became a usage generally 
followed and an addition of which the commen- 
tator approved. Whether al-Ghazzall would have 
approved is another matter. Some very singular 
mechanical aids came later to be in more or less 
repute. Undoubtedly, suggestive usages and the 
association of certain ideas with them would go far 
to help the self-hypnotizing process. With the 
views slated here of the value of a shaykh, the 


experience of Tawakkul Beg should be com- 
pared. 1 

We can now return to al-Ghazzali himself. As 
might be expected, the speculative theologians 
objected to the general use of this method of reaching 
religious truth. They admitted its existence and 
that it was the method of prophets, but it was diffi- 
cult and slow, and its conditions were hard to com- 
bine. The propitious state of insight lasted only a 
moment; a breath from the outside destroyed it. 
The heart, too, was essentially mobile and uncertain. 
It was easily affected by physical conditions, and, 
under these, pathological and destructive imaginings 
might arise, which might then be trusted and fol- 
lowed with disastrous results. These we should 
now call non-veridical hallucinations, and al-Ghaz- 
zali, too, was well aware of their possibility. Fin- 
ally, a prophet might become a canon lawyer by 
inspiration, but for ordinary men there was no 
way except study; any other course was like exchang- 
ing farming for treasure-digging. 

But the essential difference between the two 
methods — insight by the heart and study — must now 
be made clear. Al-Ghazzali does it again by means 
of two illustrations. One is a really startling antici- 
pation of Wordsworth's "eternal deep, haunted 
forever by the eternal mind," and of the still more 
recent conception of a subliminal consciousness in 

1 See above, pp. 19s S. 


direct touch with the infinite. Let there be imagined 
a pond into which water flows in streams from the 
higher-lying ground. And let, also, the bed of the 
pond be dug up until there rises into it, from the 
springs of the earth, water purer and more abundant 
than that which the streams afford. Then, if the 
streams are closed up, the water will still rise in the 
pond, and will do so even more spontaneously and 
steadily. This pond is the heart; the water which 
pours in from the streams is knowledge coming by 
way of the five senses; the water which rises from 
the springs is the knowledge which comes directly 
to the heart. When the paths of the senses are 
closed, from the depths of the heart there will rise 
knowledge still purer and more abundant. 

But it may be said, " There are veins of water in 
the earth which thus rise, but whence does knowl- 
edge flow directly into the heart?" The answer 
comes by asking another question. How does 
knowledge come to the heart in any case? Al- 
Ghazzall views it thus. For all that is, or is done 
in the world, God has written on the Preserved 
Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfuz) something that can be 
compared to an architect's plan for a house. Of 
course this is only using the qur'anic expression to 
say that all earthly things and doings exist and have 
always existed definitely registered in the spiritual 
world. According to this plan, then, the world has 
been created and is being conducted. It has now 


become material (jismdni) and factual (haqiqi). From 
this second is derived a third corresponding existence 
in the senses and in the imagination, or picturing 
power of the mind {al-khayal). Thence, finally, 
comes a fourth, an intellectual form of existence 
( c aqli), in the heart. Thus things have four exist- 
ences, and in this way comes our ordinary knowledge 
of the outside world. But is it so ordinary ? How 
can the eye take in the unbounded universe, or the 
mind know that which is outside itself, or retain the 
knowledge of that which has passed away ? It can 
be only by an act of beneficence of the divine wisdom 
that there can come these existences in the senses, in 
the imagination and in the heart. We could never 
perceive a thing that did not reach us, and unless 
there were something in our being corresponding to 
the world, we could never retain any knowledge of 
what had gone by. That means that the human 
body is a mysterious structure, combining relation- 
ships with the material and with the spiritual worlds. 
Al-Ghazzall, in short, forces us back on the primary 
mystery of the relation of mind and body. Man's 
body is the link, but it and its operations are, none 
the less, perpetual miracles. 

If, then, we are asked how the heart sees, the 
answering question is pertinent, How do the eye, 
the imagination, the mind see, retain, know? No more 
nor less miraculous is the vision which the heart has 
directly of the plans on the Preserved Tablet. The 


evidence for this as fact is the evidence of those who 
have attained to such knowledge; it is the same in 
kind, though not so large in amount, as the evidence 
for the fact of vision. Direct heart- vision is a per- 
manent property belonging to the nature of man, 
but the hearts of most God has blinded so that they 
cannot see. If they can, by suitable meditations 
and exercises, raise the veils, then they will see and 
know. Every man is potentially a seer and a saint. 

The heart, then, has two doorways; one opening 
on the spiritual world, and the other on the five 
senses which take hold of the world of sense. And 
the one of these worlds corresponds after a fashion 
to the other world. How the door is opened to 
knowledge through the senses is already plain. 
Certainty as to the other can be acquired through 
considering the marvels of vision and how the heart 
is instructed as to the future or the past in sleep. 
That doorway is opened only to one who has given 
himself up to the thought of God and keeps himself 
aloof, through that thought, from everything else. 

But, turning from the two means of access, 
al-Ghazzall propounds another parable to explain 
the different methods of working of the Sufis and 
of the speculative students of theology. The people 
of China and the people of Byzantium once com- 
peted before one of the kings as to their respective 
abilities in decorating. So the king gave over a 
vestibule to be adorned by them; one side by the 


people of China, and the other by the people of 
Byzantium. A curtain was let down between, and 
none knew what the other was doing. The people 
of Byzantium set to work with all manner of strange 
paints and dyes. But the people of China took 
nothing behind their side of the curtain and simply 
smoothed and polished their wall. So all men 
wondered what they could be doing without any 
paint or materials. But when the curtain was 
removed, their wall shone like a mirror and reflected 
all the beautiful work of the Byzantine artists, with 
the added glory of brilliancy and clearness. 

Such is the manner of working of God's saints. 
They strive only to polish and purify the soul, until 
it may reflect clearly the spiritual world. But specu- 
lative theologians, like the people of Byzantium, try 
to adorn it with all manner of knowledge and science. 
Each has his method. But however that may be, 
rank in the world to come will depend upon knowl- 
edge of divine things. Both purity of heart and 
knowledge in the heart persist there with the hearts 
to which they belong. "The dust cannot devour 
the abode of faith," said a saint, and that faith is a 
means of access and nearness to God; there can 
never be more than enough of it. It is true that 
there are all manner of grades of spiritual experience 
and faith; but all count. A man who has a little 
money is independent (ghani) to that extent, and so 
far is in the same class with the very wealthy man 


(cU-ghani). So with faith, and spiritual knowledge; 
these are as lights (so spoken of in the Qur'Sn) 
leading to God; but they may be mere tapers, and 
they may be as the sun. 

This affects the doctrine of the faith that is to 
salvation. He who has over a grain of faith will 
never enter the Fire; he who has a grain or less, if 
he has any, will not abide in the Fire. It is certain, 
from the teaching of the Qufan, that there are many 
stations in the Garden just as there are divisions in 
knowledge, ranging from the most ignorant believer 
on authority (muqallad) to the most experienced 
saint ( c drif). 

But a proof may still be needed that this is legally 
a sound method. To such a proof al-Ghazzall 
now turns. This section is, naturally, not of the 
same importance to us, and I give only so much 
here as may be of value for our knowledge of the 
spiritual life of Islam. Ibn Khaldun's argument, 
on pp. 165 ff. above, should be compared. No one, 
says al-Ghazzall, who has had any experience, how- 
ever slight, of such falling of knowledge into the 
heart, he knew not whence, will ask for any other 
proof that he is within the law. As for him who 
has had no such personal experience, let him con- 
sider the following proofs. These divide into pas- 
sages in the Qufan, traditions from the Prophet, 
experiences and stories from the saints. The first 
arc all somewhat general and deal with turning, 


striving, pressing towards God, elaborate develop- 
ments of the metaphor of "light," promises of aid 
toward the understanding of the Qufan. Nothing 
seems to go beyond the devout life, seeking support 
and guidance from its Lord. One somewhat fa- 
mous text is Qur. xviii, 64: "And we taught him 
some knowledge of our own (min ladunna)." All 
knowledge is of God, but transcendental knowledge 
(al-Hlm ar-rabbanl, al-laduni) is that which is given 
directly to the heart without passing through human 
teaching. So the true scholar ( c dlim) is not he who 
learns a book by heart, which he may forget, but he 
who takes knowledge from his Lord (min rabbihi) 
at what time he wills, without learning by heart or 

The stories of saints given are largely of the nature 
of thought-transference, and very simple cases at 
that. One of the more picturesque is as follows: 
Someone went in one day to ash-Shibll, a celebrated 
mystic and ascetic who died A. H. 334 (a. d. 945-46), 
and ash-Shibll said to him, "Tested! Ahmad." 
Said Ahmad to him, "How was that?" "I was 
sitting," he answered, "and there suddenly came 
into my mind, 'You are a miser.' I said, 'I am not 
a miser,' but the thought kept coming back to me 
and saying, ' Nay, but you are a miser.' So I said, 
'Whatever God sends me today I will give to the 
first poor man I meet.' My thought was hardly com- 
plete when there came to me a friend of Mu 3 nis, the 


Khadim, and brought me fifty dinars, saying, 'Use 
them for your affairs.' So I rose and went out and 
there was a poor blind man, sitting before a barber, 
who was shaving his head. I went to him and 
offered to him the dinars, but he said, 'Give them 
to the barber.' I said, ' But they amount to such and 
such.' He said, 'Have we not said to you that you 
are a miser ? ' So I offered them to the barber, but 
he said, ' When this poor man sat down before me I 
determined not to take anything on his account.' 
" So," finishes ash-Shibll, " I cast the dinars into the 
Tigris and said, 'None honoreth thee but God 
abaseth him.' " Here ash-Shibll had a flash of 
insight into himself, which he would not at first 
believe, but which was justified by his protest to the 
poor man; and the poor man read from the mind 
of ash-Shibll his previous experience. So he 
comments upon himself in bitter humor that he 
must be so low that no one can honor him with a 
present without being dishonored by the throwing 
away of his present. His trial had shown him that 
no one could come to any good through him. 

The following are of a different kind and humor. 
The commentator tells them from al-Qushayri, a 
Sufi writer who died in a. h. 465 (a. d. 1072-3) : Su- 
fyan ath-Thawrl once pilgrimaged along with Shay- 
ban ar-Ra'I, and a lion encountered them. Then 
said Sufyan to Shayban, "Don't you see this lion ?" 
Hut Shayban said, "Don't be afraid," and he took 


hold of the lion's ears and rubbed them, and the 
lion wagged his tail and moved his ears. Then 
Sufyan said, "What kind of showing off is this?" 
But Shayban replied, " If it were not for the fear of 
showing off, I would set my provender upon his 
back until I came to Mecca." The miraculous 
power of walls should be concealed by them and 
never turned to a show or a boast. The miracle of 
a prophet, on the other hand, is always a public sign. 
Another story is that Ibrahim ibn Adham was in 
a traveling company and a lion encountered them. 
But Ibrahim went to it and said, " O lion ! if thou 
hast been commanded anything against us, execute 
it; and if not, depart!" And the lion departed. 
Another narrator says, "I was with Ibrahim al- 
Khawwas in open field, and when we were beside a 
tree a lion came. So I climbed the tree and remained 
there, unsleeping, until the morning. But al-Khaw- 
was lay down and slept, and the lion sniffed him 
all over from head to foot and went away. The 
second night we passed in a mosque in a village, and 
a bug fell upon his face and bit him, and he moaned 
and cried out. So I said, 'This is a wonder! 
Yesternight you were not troubled at the lion, and 
tonight you cry out for a bug.' But he said, 'As 
for yesterday, that was a state in which I was with 
God most high; but as for tonight, this is a state in 
which I am with myself.' " For such minor miracles 
(kardmdt) parallel testimony can be found, not only 


in the hagiology, but in the psychology, abnormal 
and normal, of all peoples. The lion stories, for 
example, are of exactly the same type as the case 
reported by Dr. Weir Mitchell, 1 of a woman who, 
in a secondary state of personality, wandered in the 
woods and treated with similar familiarity the bears 
which she met. St. Francis, too, appears to have 
had like powers. 

But al-Ghazzall, like our present day psychical 
investigators, knew very well that any number of 
such stories could force no conviction on the deniers 
who had themselves experienced nothing of the kind. 
They had not met al-Khadir face to face, or heard 
the bodiless voice of a haiif, the bath qdl of the 
Hebrews, the Sai/xav of Socrates and the auditory 
hallucination 4 of modern psychology, and they were 
very sure that no one else had. So he falls back 
on two points which even they could not deny. 
The first is the marvel of a veridical dreaming (cf. 
above pp. 70 ff.). If that is possible in sleep, it 
should not be impossible in waking; for the only 
difference between the two states is the slumber of 

1 Transactions oj College oj Physicians of Philadelphia, April 
4, 1888; quoted in James, Psychology, Vol. II, pp. 381-84, and 
Myers, Human Personality, Vol. I, pp. 336, 337; also the story 
of the saint and the tiger in Swynnerton, Indian Nights' Enter- 
tainment, pp. 32 f. 

' There are curious cases, also, of visual hallucination. Ash- 
Shadhill (d. A. H. 654 -A. D. 1256) said, "They sometimes ask 
inc a question to which I do not know the answer, and lol there it 
is written in the corner on the reed-mat or the wall." 


the senses and the lack of occupation with sensu- 
ous percepts. In this distinction, of course, our 
psychology will hardly bear him out. The second 
is the fact that a prophet gives information about 
the unseen world and future things; that all ad- 
mitted. But a prophet is simply a man to whom the 
essential natures of things have been revealed, and 
who is occupied with the improvement of man- 
kind. The existence, therefore, is not impossible of 
others, possessing the first characteristic but having 
nothing to do with the second. These are the watts, 
saints, who have no commission to preach, but only 
to cultivate their own souls. This is another exam- 
ple of the argument from classification noticed above, 
pp. 63 and 152. 

Anyone, then, who admits these two things, must 
admit the two gateways of the heart, an external one 
through the senses and an internal one, opening 
directly on the heavenly kingdom. Through both 
knowledge must come, mediate and immediate, and 
the truth of the description of the heart as swaying 
between the world of the senses and the Unseen is 
evident. How great a thing this is must also be 
plain. Through the heart man can come into 
direct and intimate association with God and know 
what angels know not. They cannot see what is 
in the heart, and the heart of the man of spiritual 
experience ( c drif) can tell him things which they can- 
not. For the Muslim, man is higher than the angels. 



We pass now to the temptations which assail the 
heart. The fundamental conception here is the 
whispering (waswds) of the devil to the heart. 
Twice in the Qufan the expression is used distinctly 
of the devil (vii, 19; xx, 118); once uncertainly, but 
of something evil (cxiv, 4, 5) and once (1. 15) of the 
soul inafs), evidently as inciting to evil. In Muslim 
theological and ethical works the word has come to 
be normal for such satanic incitation. 

Al-Ghazzali divides this subject into five sections : 
(1) how the devil gains rule over the heart by " whis- 
pering" and the meaning of "whispering" gener- 
ally; (2) the different modes of the approach of the 
devil to the heart; (3) what "whisperings" in the 
heart the creature is punished for and for what he 
is forgiven; (4) is it conceivable that "whisperings" 
can be cut off entirely at times of the thought (dhikr) 
of God ? (5) with what speed the heart turns and 
changes, and how hearts differ in this respect. 

I. The heart is like a round building with doors 
open on all sides, or a target struck by arrows from 
all directions, or a mirror over which forms arc con- 
tinually passing, or a pond into which waters arc 



constantly flowing; ever-renewed and ever-changing 
impressions are being produced upon it. 

They come through the senses externally, and 
internally through the imagination, the fleshly ap- 
petite, anger — the complex nature of man in gen- 
eral. Whenever he perceives anything by the senses, 
an effect is produced on his heart. So, too, when 
the fleshly appetite is moved by overfeeding. And 
even if the senses are closed the imagination moves 
from thing to thing and the heart with it from state 
to state. So it is in constant change on account 
of these causes. The most specific of these impres- 
sions are the ideas which occur to the mind (khawa- 
tir; literally Einfalle), coming from thoughts and 
recollections. These move operations of the will; 
for a thing must be thought of before it can be 
intended or willed; then the will moves the body. 
Next, these ideas can be divided into those which 
summon to good and those which summon to evil. 
The first are called ilham and the second waswds, 
"whispering." The causer of the first is called an 
angel, and the causer of the second a devil {shay tan). 
The divine benignity by which the heart is prepared 
to receive ideas inciting to good is called "help" 
(tawjiq) and the opposite is "seduction" and" deser- 
tion." "Angel," then, is an expression for one of God's 
creations whose business is the urging of good and 
adding of knowledge and unveiling of the truth and 
promising of good and commanding kindness; "the 


devil" is an expression for a creature whose business 
is the opposite of that, promising evil and com- 
manding vileness and scaring by the threat of poverty 
when there is solicitude for the good. 1 So "whis- 
pering" is over against ilham and the devil against 
the angel and "help" against "desertion." As has 
been said in the Qufan (li, 49), " Of every thing we 
have created a pair," and all things are coupled in 
apposition except God himself. 

So the heart is pulled about between the devil and 
the angel. It has two traveling companions, as 
Muhammad has said; for the one, God should be 
praised; and against the other, his aid should be 
sought. This, too, is the meaning of his saying 
that the heart of the believer is between two of God's 
fingers. It is a metaphorical expression for God's 
working upon it through the angel and the devil. 
By its created nature the heart is equally fitted to 
be affected by either. Passion (hawa) may be 
followed or opposed. In the one case, the devil 
settles in the heart and rules it; in the other case, 
the angels. But no heart is free from fleshly appe- 
tite and anger and desire, and therefore the devil 
and his whisperings always haunt it. The Prophet 
said, "There is not one of you who has not a devil." 
They said to him, " Even thou, O apostle of God ?" 
He replied, "Even I; only God aided me against 
him, and he gave it up and commands only good," 

'Qur. ii, 271. 


the meaning of which is that when the fleshly 
appetite keeps within due measure, the devil who 
has clothed himself in it can command good only. 
And, on the other hand, those in whose hearts passion 
and the lusts are strong come to be ruled by the 
devil, who becomes their real god. The cure is to 
empty the heart; but more curious prescriptions are 
sometimes given. One complained to the Prophet 
that the devil came between him and his prayers. 
"That is a devil," said Muhammad, "who is called 
Khinzib. Whenever you feel him, seek refuge with 
God from him and spit thrice on your left." But 
the thought of God in general is the most effective 
means. To destroy the whisperings of the devil 
another thought must be put in the mind. That of 
God and of the things connected with him should 
therefore be used, for in it the devil never can find 
room. Hence, the virtue of such phrases as, "I 
seek refuge with God from the stoned devil," and 
"There is no strength or power save in God, the 
High, the Mighty." 

The lusts, then, so run in the flesh and blood of 
men, and the rule of the devil over them is, in conse- 
quence, so normal that at all points the devil lies 
in wait for them. Even in their embracing of Islam, 
in their migrating with the Prophet to al-Madina, 
in their fighting in the path of God, the devil has 
been able to suggest evil. He has also the art to 
suggest things praiseworthy in themselves and yet 


so to develop them that they lead to destruction. 
A description is given, for example, how a man can 
be led into preaching and through it brought into 
spiritual pride, love of popularity and ambition. 
This, with little doubt, is autobiographic; al-Ghaz- 
zali preached at one time and gave it up for the sake 
of his own soul. 1 Another example is that Satan 
(Iblls) appeared once to Jesus and said to him, 
" Say, ' There is no God save Allah.' " Jesus replied, 
"That is a true word, but I will not say it for thy 
saying." Under its good are implications. It is 
the duty, then, of the creature to watch every solici- 
tude that runs in his mind and test it whence it 
comes. Absolutely to cut off these things there is 
only one way. Let him retire into solitude in a' 
darkened house — this will block the senses, the 
avenues outward; let him strip himself of family 
and fortune — this will diminish the avenues of 
whisperings from within; let him occupy himself 
with the thought of God — this will keep off the 
imaginations which flow into the heart; let him 
constantly draw his heart Godward and strive on in 
this way — the striving will last his life. The gates of 
the devil to the heart cannot be finally locked; they 
must always be watched. The devil never sleeps; 
"Then we should rest !" said one saint. Yet he can 
be worn out for a time, as a wayfaring man wears 
out his beast in travel. 

' "Life," Journal 0} American Oriental Society, Vol. XX, pp. 
101 ff. 


And, again, while the devil has many gates there 
is but one by which the angels come. So, while he 
has many paths to which he calls men, there is but 
one true path. The Prophet once drew a line upon 
the ground. "That is the path of God," he said, 
Then he drew many lines to right and left. "On 
each of these," he said, "stands a devil calling you." 
Finding his way here man is like a traveler on a dark 
night in a desert crossed by innumerable trails 
A discerning eye and the morning light from the 
Book of God and the usage of the Prophet alone can 
guide him. 

In what has preceded, concerning the relation of 
man to his fleshly nature, a curious contradiction 
has ruled — a reflection, perhaps, of the unresolved 
paradox of man's nature. At one time al-Ghazzall 
recognizes the necessary part which the fleshly 
appetites and emotions play in the maintenance 
of human life; he even reckons Satan into this and 
finds him a creation of God for God's purposes, a 
necessary balance to the angels. But at another, 
the absolute ascetic note is struck; all sensuous life 
must be excluded; existence must be the contem- 
plation of God; Satan is the accursed One. How 
this develops will appear. Al-Ghazzali's sense of 
humanity rose above his theories. 

2. But a knowledge of the avenues of approach of 
the devil is also necessary and is as absolute a duty 
of the individual as warding them off. These 


avenues of approach are human qualities, and are 
very many. Here al-Ghazzali can give only the 
most important; as it were the great gates only of 
the City of Mansoul : (a) anger and fleshly lust. Of 
these he tells this legend. It should be remembered 
that the cause of the fall of Satan from his angelic 
state was his refusal to adore Adam :* 

Satan met Moses and said " Thou art he whom Allah has 
chosen to be his Apostle and with whom he has spoken" 
and I am one of his creatures. I have sinned and desire to 
repent; so intercede for me with my Lord, that he accept 
my repentance." To this Moses agreed. Then when he 
had gone up into the mountain and spoken with his Lord, and 
was about to descend, his Lord said to him, "Deliver that in- 
trusted to thee." So Moses said, "Thy creature, Satan, de- 
sires to repent." And Allah revealed to Moses, "O Moses, thy 
request is granted; command him that he adore the grave of 
Adam, that his repentance may be accepted." Then Moses 
met Satan and said to him, "Thy request is granted; thou 
art commanded to adore the grave of Adam that thy repentance 
may be accepted." But he was angry and proud, and said, 
"I did not adore him living, and shall I adore him dead?" 
Therefore he said, "O Moses, thou hast a right against me, 
because thou didst intercede for me with thy Lord. If thou 
remember me, then, on three occasions, I shall not destroy 
thee. Remember me when thou art angry, for my spirit is 
in thy heart and my eye is in thy eye and I affect thee as does 
thy blood, and whenever a man is angry I blow in his nostrils, 
and he knows not what he does. And remember me when 
thou meetest an army in array, for when one of mankind meets 
an army in array I make him to remember wife and child and 

■ Qur. vii, 10 ff. • Ibid., iv, 162. 


folk, and he turns aside. And beware thou that thou sit with 
a woman who is not of near kin, for I am her messenger to 
thee and thy messenger to her." 

This story is regarded as a warning against anger, 
desire of the world and fleshly lust. It is a curious 
and distinctive feature of Muslim hortatory legend 
that the warning is so often put into the mouth of 
Satan himself, (b) Envy and cupidity, too, have their 
tale. It is narrated that — 

when Noah entered the ark, he took into it a pair of every 
kind, as Allah had commanded him. Then he saw in the 
ark an old man whom he did not know; and he said to him, 
"What brought thee in?" He replied, "I came in that I 
might reach the hearts of thy comrades, that their hearts 
might be with me and their bodies with thee." Said Noah to 
him, "Go forth from here, O enemy of Allah! for thou art 
accursed." But Satan said to him, "There be five things 
by which I destroy mankind. Shall I tell thee of three of them 
or of two?" And Allah revealed to Noah, "Thou hast no 
need of the three; let him tell thee of the two." So Noah 
said, "What are the two?" And he said, "They are the 
two which give me not the lie; they are the two which fail 
me not; by them I destroy mankind; they are envy and 
cupidity. For by envy was I accursed, and became a pelted 

(c) Fullness of food, even though it be lawful and 
pure. It is narrated — 

that Satan appeared to John, son of Zacharias, and he saw 
upon him thongs or straps for every purpose. So he said, 
"O Satan, what are those thongs?" And Satan said, "These 
are the lusts by which I reach men." He said, "And have 
I anything among them?" Satan replied. "Sometimes 


thou art full of food, and we make thee too heavy to pray 
and think of God." He said, "Is there aught else ?" Satan 
replied, "Nay." Then he said, "I make my vow to God 
that I will never fill my belly with food again." Then said 
Satan, "And I make my vow to God that I will never give 
sound counsel to a Muslim again." 

(d) Love of adornment in furniture and clothing 
and house. When that begins there is no end except 
death. The devil need only start it, and it will go 
of itself. 

(e) Importuning men for aught. This because 
the man importuned becomes, as it were, an object 
of worship, and to insinuate one's self with him 
hypocrisy and false carriage are used. Ask naught 
of any but God. 

(/) Haste and abandoning of steadiness in affairs. 
The Prophet said, "Haste is of the devil and 
patience of Allah." And there stands in the 
Qufan (xxi, 38), "Man was created out of haste," 
and (xvii, 12) "Man was a hastener." The Muslim 
version of " The oracles are dumb " is brought to bear 
on this as follows: 

When Jesus, son of Mary, was born, the devils came to 
Satan and said, "The idols have hung down their heads." 
He said, "This is something which must have happened; 
remain ye." So he flew until he had gone to the east and the 
west of the world, and found naught. Thereafter he found 
Jesus; he had been born, and lol the angels surrounded him. 
So he said, "Lol a prophet was born yesternight. Until 
this, a woman never conceived nor bore but I was present. 
So despair ye that the idols will be worshiped after this night; 


but approach ye the sons of men on the side of haste and 

(g) Money and all kinds of wealth. That is every- 
thing above what is absolutely necessary. The 
heart of him who has only so much is at leisure; 
with more, desires arise. This is illustrated oddly. 
If a man finds one hundred dinars on the road, ten 
desires spring up, each of which to accomplish would 
need a hundred dinars. So the man is now really 
in need of nine hundred dinars instead of having 
a hundred to the good. It is related that Jesus once 
used a stone as a pillow. Satan passed and said, 
"O Jesus, thou hast desire of the world!" But 
Jesus took the stone from under his head and cast it 
away, and said, "Take it along with the world!" 
So even a stone may do mischief. A devotee who 
has one is tempted by it as he stands in prayer; the 
thought that he could use it as a pillow, and lie 
down and sleep is in his mind, and disturbs his 
devotions. How much more, then, the apparatus 
of luxury ! 

(h) Miserliness and the fear of poverty. There 
is much in the Qufan bearing on these, for it con- 
stantly exhorts to alms and the expending of money 
generously and to trust in God. Fear of poverty 
is thus almost unbelief. It drives, too, to the fre- 
quenting of market-places which are the especial 
abodes of devils. 

(i) Partisanship for schools and leaders in the- 


ology and law. On the hatred, envy, and malice, 
slighting, contempt, and open hostility to which that 
leads, al-Ghazzall has much to say. He had known 
it himself and seen it around him. It was lip- 
devotion, too. He who professed to follow one of the 
great Imams should imitate his life and deeds. 
Otherwise that Imam would be his enemy on the 
day of resurrection. 1 

(j) That the masses try to study the problem of 
the nature and attributes of God. It is the devil who 
leads them to this, and involves them in vain imagin- 
ings and finally makes them unbelievers. For the 
stupidest of men are those who believe most fixedly 
in their own reasoning powers, and the most rational 
of men are most full of suspicion of themselves The 
Prophet said, " The devil comes to one of you and 
says, 'Who created you?' then that one says, 'Allah, 
who is blessed and exalted in himself.' Then he 
asks, 'But who created Allah ?" When that, then, 
comes to one of you, let him say, ' I believe in Allah 
and in his apostle;' then that will pass from him." 
So the Prophet did not command that this "whis- 
pering " of the devil should be investigated and dis- 
puted, for it comes to the masses rather than to the 
c Ulama. It is the duty, rather, of the masses that 

■ On al-Ghazzali's own experiences of this kind, in his unre- 
generate days, see the " Life " of him in the Journal of the Ameri- 
can Oriental Society, Vol. XX, pp. 74, 104, 107. 

' Cf. Professor J. B. Pratt's Psychology oj Religious Belief, 
p. 303. 


they should believe and be submissive and occupy 
themselves with worship and the gaining of their 
daily bread, and leave knowledge to the c Ulama. It 
were better for such an one to commit adultery or 
steal than to busy himself with theological knowl- 
edge, for he who without sure foundations does so, 
comes to unbelief, he knows not how. 

(k) Evil suspicion of Muslims. There stands in 
the Qufan (xlix, 12), "Avoid ye carefully suspi- 
cion; some suspicion is a sin." By it the devil 
gets hold of a man, and leads him round until he 
thinks himself better than others. But giving 
occasion of suspicion should also be avoided. Even 
the Prophet guarded not himself, but others, by 
carefulness there. So no one should think that he 
need not be careful in this way, however high and 
unshakable his repute. The evil think evil of all. 
Whenever a man has evil suspicions of men in general 
and seeks faults in them, know that he is vile within 
and that that is his vileness oozing out of him. 

Such are some of the avenues of approach of the 
devil; to give them all were impossible. 

How, then, can we guard these ? Is the thought 
(dhikr) of God enough ? 

In answer: The treatment is to close these 
avenues by purifying the heart from evil qualities. 
This is a long matter, but in sum, when these quali- 
ties have been rooted out from the heart, the devil 
has left to him only transient passage through it; 


he can throw ideas into it, but has no fixed abode 
there. Then the thought of God hinders him, for 
it is of the essence of that thought to be fixed in the 
heart only after it has been equipped with piety 
and purity. Otherwise this thought is mere talk 
(hadith nafs), does not rule the heart and cannot 
prevent the rule of the devil. He is like a hungry 
dog who comes to you. If you have anything to eat 
in your hand, you cannot drive him off; but if you 
have nothing, a word is enough. If there are lusts 
in the heart, the thought of God remains without, 
and cannot pierce to the interior where the devil 
sits. On the other hand, he can work against the 
saints only when they are careless for a moment. 

There follows a number of formulae used in such 
"thoughts" of God, the repeating of which drives 
the devil away. Stories, too, come of how he even 
confessed their efficiency and tried to bribe saints 
not to teach them to others. They had, evidently, 
in themselves a magical value. There used to come 
to the Prophet himself, at his prayers, and disturb 
him, a devil carrying in his hand a firebrand. He 
would station himself before the Prophet and could 
not be driven away by any formula. So Gabriel 
came and taught the following, to which this devil 
yielded: "I take refuge in the perfect words of 
Allah, which neither pure nor impure can ever pass, 
from the evil of that which comes forth from the 
earth and enters into it, of that which descends from 


the heavens and ascends into them, from the tempta- 
tions of the night and the day, from the accidents of 
the night and the day, save an accident that brings 
good, O Merciful One!" On another occasion 
he had a personal struggle with the devil, and the 
traditions about it seem to be the confused and 
contradictory record of an actual episode in his 
pathological development. He took the devil by 
the throat, and choked him, " and I did not let him 
go until I had felt the cold of his tongue upon my 
hand. And I thought of tying him to a pillar [of 
the mosque] until you could come in the morning 
and see him, but I remembered how Solomon had 
asked 1 of God that he would give him such rule as 
would not belong to any after him." 

But these formulae are of value only when used by 
the saintly. Let none think that by reciting them 
at any time — an opus operatum — he can drive away 
the devil. That is as absurd as to imagine that a 
medicine will take effect when the stomach is bur- 
dened with food. So, "remembering" (dkikr) is a 
medicine, and piety (taqwd) is abstinence from food ; 
apply piety first to the heart, empty it of fleshly 
lusts, and these formulae will drive the devil from 

But all this leads naturally to a weighty question : 
This inciter to different acts of rebellion, is he one 
devil or are there different devils? Al-Ghazzali 

1 Qur. xxxviii, 34. 


does not approve of this question here. For prac- 
tical purposes (Ji-l-mu c amala) it is enough to drive 
the enemy away; "Eat the vegetable, wherever 
it may come from, and ask not about the garden." 
What is plain in the light of reflection on the evidence 
given by tradition is that there are armies of devils, 
and each kind of sin has a devil of its own. This 
would be plain of itself; the variety of effects leads 
back to variety of causes. 

As for the armies, many differing accounts are 
given of their origin. But they all spring from Satan 
who is their father. He has especially five sons, 
each with his mitier: Thabr, al-A c war, Miswat, 
Dasim, and Zalanbur. Thabr stirs up trouble; he 
brings tearing of garments and slapping of cheeks. 
Al-A c war's department is fornication; Miswat's is 
lying; Dasim makes a husband reproach his wife 
and be angry with her; Zalanbur is in charge of 
markets — hence the continual wrangling and striv- 
ing there. Khinzib interferes with prayer and 
Walahan with ritual ablution. These are the best- 
known names, but other writers enter into greater 

So, too, there are armies of angels, and each 
specializes in the same way. Every believer, says 
one authority, has one hundred and sixty as a guard ; 
if he were left to himself for an instant, the devils 
would snatch him away. The relations of men, 
devils and angels arc described thus curiously : 


After Adam had fallen to earth — the Muslim Fall was 
literal, from the top of the mountain of the Earthly Paradise — 
he said, "O my Lord! if thou dost not aid me against this 
one between whom and myself Thou hast put hostility, I 
shall not be strong enough for him." The Lord said, "A 
son will not be born to thee without an angel being put in 
charge of him." But he said, "O my Lord! give me more." 
And the Lord said, "I will requite an evil deed once, and a 
good deed tenfold, besides what I increase." But he said, 
"O my Lord! give me morel" The Lord said, "The gate 
of repentance is open so long as the spirit is in the body." 
But Satan said, "O my Lord! if Thou dost not aid me 
against this creature whom thou hast honored over me, I 
shall not be strong enough for him." The Lord said, "There 
shall not be born to him a child, but one shall be born to thee 
also." But Satan said, "O my Lord! give me more." The 
Lord said, "Thou shalt flow in them as their blood, and take 
their bosoms for your abodes." But Satan said, "O my 
Lord! give me more." The Lord said, "Assemble upon 
them with thy horse and thy foot, and share with them wealth 
and children, and promise them — and the devil promises 
them naught except deceit." 1 

On such easy terms are the Lord and Satan in 
Islam, much as in the Book of Job. Emphasis on 
the absolute sovereignty of Allah naturally negates 
the independence of an evil power, and the sense 
of Allah's immediate working negates Satan's iso- 
lation. He no longer, it is true, appears in the court 
of heaven, but he says, "My Lord," and regards 
himself as part of the necessary apparatus of things. 3 

1 Qur. xvii, 66. 

1 Compare generally with this the chapter above on the Jinn, 
and especially pp. 139 ff. 


But the question is bound to come up : How does 
the devil appear to some and not to others; and 
when anyone sees a form, is that the veritable form 
{sura) or only a symbol {mithal) ? If it is his veri- 
table form, how is he seen in different forms, or at 
one time in two different places and in two forms? 
The answer is that angels and devils have, it is true, 
each a form which is their real form; but it cannot 
be seen by the eye, and only in the light of the 
prophetic gift. Even the Prophet saw Gabriel only 
twice in his true form, once when he stood up before 
him blocking all the horizon from east to west, and 
again on the night of the ascent to heaven (al-Mfoaf) 
beside the lote-tree of the extremity. 1 Apart from 
these occasions he mostly saw him in a human form. 

So with Satan. By far the most frequent case is 
that those who have attained the power to see him 
when awake, see him in a form which is a symbol 
or likeness of his veritable form. There are many 
tales of this. And this takes the place of seeing his 
veritable form. The heart is of such a nature that 
there must needs appear in it a verity which comes on 
the side which is over against the world of the heav- 
enly kingdom. Then an effect from that flashes out 
on the side over against the world of sense; because 
the two are joined. What so appears is only a con- 
struction of the imagination (mutakhayyila), as are 
all things in the world of sense. In that world the 

' Qur. liii. 


outside, only, is reached by the senses, and the 
imagination taking that result is sometimes led en- 
tirely astray; the world of sense is a world of much 
equivocation. But what comes to the imagination 
by the flashing out of the world of the kingdom upon 
the secret heart is like to and corresponds to the 
quality itself, for the form in the kingdom follows 
the quality, and assuredly a vile conception there is 
not seen except in a vile form. 

The result, then, is that the devil is seen sometimes 
by way of symbolization and likeness, and sometimes, 
but very much more rarely, in his true form. He 
who sees him by a symbol differs from the dreamer 
only in the fact of actual beholding with the eye. 

The commentator adds a very interesting note 
from Ibn c Arabi, asserting the same thing of the Jinn, 
whom he joins with the angels under the one name 
"spiritual being" (ruhdni). One curious further 
detail may be worth giving as it agrees exactly with 
Irish folk-lore. So long as a spiritual being is 
looked at fixedly in one of its forms by the human 
eye, it cannot change that form, but is, as it were, 
fettered by it. The ruhdni must then use a strate- 
gem which seems not to have occurred to the Irish 
leprechaun. He produces a form before himself like 
a screen and then causes this screen to move away 
to one side; the eye of his observer follows it invol- 
untarily and he escapes. 1 

1 Ihyi, Vol. VII, p. 27a; Keightley, Fairy Mythology, pp. 
37a ff.; compare the case of an apparently veridical hallucination 


But though al-Ghazzali declined to go farther on 
this subject to his present audience, it may be in 
place for me here to introduce a statement of his 
philosophy of spirits. I extract it from his Madnun, 
a book containing developments of his teaching 
which he considered suited for specialist students 
only. There he continues the subject thus:' 

Angels, Jinn, and devils are substances existing in them- 
selves, and differing in essence in the same way as do species. 
An example of that is "power," for it differs from " knowl- 
edge," and "knowledge" differs from "power" and both 
differ from "color." So "power" and "knowledge" and 
"color" are accidents, existing in something that is not them- 
selves. Similarly, between angel and devil and Jinn there is 
a difference, and yet each of these has a nature of its own. 
That there is a difference between Jinn and angels is certain, 
but it is not known whether it is a difference between two 
species, like that between "horse" and "man," or whether the 
difference is in accidents like that between "man complete" 
and "incomplete." Similarly, the difference between angel 
and devil. There — if the species is one, and the difference 
applies to accidents — it is like that between a good man and 
a bad man, or between a prophet and a saint. To all appear- 
ance, the difference is that of species; but knowledge as to this 
is with God only. 

The above-mentioned beings are indivisible. I mean that 
the locus of knowledge of God is one and indivisible, for 
unitary knowledge is not located save in one locus. So, too, 

in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research for February, 
1907, where "a big bumble bee whirled right through" the phan- 
tasm and made it disappear. 

« Pp. 33 ff., edition of Cairo 1303. 


the essence of man. Knowledge and ignorance of one thing, 
when situated in one locus are contradictory, and when in 
two loci are not contradictory. And with respect to the 
indivisibility of this substance and the question as to whether 
it is limited or not, the consideration of these questions goes 
back to our opinion as to the existence of units that can not 
be further divided [the indestructible atom]. If an indivisible 
unit is an impossibility [if there are no atoms], then this sub- 
stance is undivided and unlimited, and if the existence of an 
indivisible unit is not impossible, then it is possible that this 
substance is limited. And some have said that it is not allow- 
able that it should be either undivided or unlimited, for God 
is both, and what then would separate this from him ? But 
that does not necessarily follow, because perhaps they differ 
in the essence of their individuality; and if there are stripped 
from both of them their divisibility and limitedness and space 
conditions — which is simply removing from God qualities 
belonging to human beings (sulub) — then there remains only 
the consideration of the essences, because that which is stripped 
from the essences is like the two accidents differing in defini- 
tion and nature and located in the same locus, for the asser- 
tion of their need of a locus and of their being in the same 
locus does not mean that they are like one another. So, simi- 
larly, stripping away the need of locus and place does not 
mean that this stripping is common to these two things. 

And it is possible that these substances, I mean the sub- 
stances of angels, may be seen, although they are non-sensible. 
This seeing is of two kinds, either by way of taking a sem- 
blance, as Allah said, "And he took for her the semblance 
of a well-formed man." 1 and as the Prophet saw Gabriel in 
the form of Dihya al-Kalbi. And the second kind is that 
some angels have a sensible body, just as our souls are non- 
sensible but have a sensible body, which is the locus of their 

1 Qur. xix, 17, of Gabriel appearing to Mary. 


control and their peculiar world. So it is with some angels. 
And perhaps this sensible body is dependent upon the illumina- 
tion of the light of the prophetic gift, just as the sensible 
things of this world of ours are dependent for perception upon 
the illumination of the light of the sun. The case is similar 
with the Jinn and devils. 

3. The references in the QuPan and in the 
traditions from Muhammad to the culpability of 
evil thoughts in the heart are contradictory to a 
degree. Some statements make such thoughts 
punishable and others let them go free. But 
al-Ghazzali believed that he could clear up the 
confusion by a fourfold analysis. First, he says, 
there comes the idea thrown into the mind; second, 
an inclination of the nature toward the thing thus 
suggested; third, a decision or conviction of the 
heart in favor of the thing; fourth, a determination 
and purpose to do the thing. Then comes the actual 
doing which, of course, is punishable. 

The first two stages are to be accounted guiltless; 
they come from the nature of man. As to the third, 
all depends upon whether the decision is voluntary 
or not. The fourth is plainly culpable, but if it 
does not pass into action, the guilt may be wiped out. 
It may have been only a moment's heedlessness, and 
in the books of the recording angels good is entered 
at ten times the value of evil. Yet if anyone dies 
in the purpose of mortal sin, he goes to the Fire. By 
intentions, deeds are judged. When Muslims fight 
together, both the slayer and the slain are guilty; 


the one because he has slain his brother; the other, 
though dying wronged, because he had purposed 
the slaying of his brother. The doctrine of inten- 
tion (niya) in Muslim ethics plays a large part. 
Ignorance as to an essential fact may make a man 
guilty or innocent, but the law itself is unaffected. 
If, as in the case above, a man willingly slays a 
brother Muslim, he is guilty; if he slays him, 
believing him not a Muslim, he is innocent; if 
he slays a non-Muslim, believing him a Muslim, he 
is guilty. 

4. As to whether the "whisperings" of the devil 
can be entirely cut off by the thought of God, those 
who have studied and know the human heart are 
of five different opinions. Some say flatly that they 
can, and base this on the saying of the Prophet, 
"Whenever God is remembered, the devil retires." 
This they take absolutely. A second party teaches 
that they cannot be utterly destroyed. They remain 
in the heart but produce no effect; the heart is too 
much occupied by the thought of God. A third 
party holds that their effect also remains; there are 
still the "whisperings," but they are as from a dis- 
tance and weak. A fourth, that they are destroyed 
when God is remembered, but only for a moment; 
then the " remembering " is destroyed for a moment ; 
and so the two follow at such close intervals that they 
seem to be competing, and the effect is like a row 
of dots round a ball; if you make it rotate rapidly 


they become a circle. So the withdrawal of the 
devil really takes place, but we see his "whisperings" 
along with our "remembering." A fifth holds that 
the "whisperings" and "remembering" compete 
continuously in abiding in the heart, as a man can 
see two things at one time. 

But the fact, in al-Ghazzali's opinion, is that all 
these views are sound; only each does not cover all 
the phases of "whispering." He would divide these 
phases as follows. First, there is a kind that is 
mixed up with the truth. The devil says to a man, 
"Do not abandon the pleasures of life; life is long, 
and patience from the lusts of the body all one's life 
is a grievous burden." Then if the man remembers 
the great fact of God and of reward and punishment, 
and says to himself that patience from the lusts is 
grievous, but patience in the Fire more grievous, and 
that one of these must be, the devil turns and flees; 
for he cannot say that the Fire is easier than patience 
from sin, or that sin will not bring to the Fire. So 
his whispering is cut off by the man's faith in the 
Book of God. And so, too, if he whisper wondering 
admiration and say, "What creature knows God 
like thee, or serves him as thou dost, and how 
great is thy standing with God ! " The man remem- 
bers that his knowledge and heart and limbs with 
which he knows and works are of God's creation; 
and how, then, should he be admired ? So the devil 
must needs retire. This kind of "whispering" can 


be completely cut off in the case of those who know 
and see in the light of faith. 

The second phase of "whispering" is that which 
rouses and moves lust, and it is either of a kind 
which the creature recognizes certainly as sin, or 
suspects vehemently. It he knows it certainly, 
the devil retires from the kind of rousing which 
actually results in moving lust, but not from simple 
rousing. And if it is only a suspected kind, it 
often remains at work so as to call for vigorous 
treatment in repelling it. So this "whispering" 
exists but is repelled and does not have the upper 

The third phase is that it should be a "whispering" 
of ideas (khawatir; Einjalle) only, and reminding 
of past states and a thinking of something else than 
prayer, for example. Then when the man turns 
to "remembering," it is conceivable that the whis- 
pering should be repelled at one time and return at 
another; so the two things keep alternating in the 
heart. So it is conceivable that they should compete 
with one another until the understanding embraces 
an understanding of the sense of what is recited and 
of those ideas, as though they were in two different 
places in the heart. And it is hardly conceivable 
that this kind can be repelled completely; yet it is 
not impossible, since the Prophet said, "He who 
prays a two-bow prayer without his soul bringing 
into it something of the world, all his sins that have 


gone before are forgiven to him." 1 If this were 
not conceivable the Prophet would not have men- 
tioned it; but it can be looked for only in a heart 
that love has so mastered that it is infatuated. 
We sometimes see, in the case of a man whose heart 
is so occupied with an enemy who has injured him, 
that he will think, not for two bows but for many, 
about disputing with him, without another thing 
than thought of his enemy coming into his head. 
So, too, with one who is deeply in love and thinks 
of his beloved; he neither hears nor sees aught else. 
How, then, may not the same be looked for from 
fear of the Fire and desire of the Garden ? Yet it 
is rare, for faith in God and the last day is weak. 

All the views, then, that have been held as to the 
possibility of repelling the whisperings of the devil 
are possible as applied to the different kinds and 
phases of that whispering. Safety from it, too, for 
a short period of time is possible; but continuance 
in safety for a whole life is highly improbable; even, 
as things are, impossible. The Prophet himself 
was distracted from prayer by the border of his 
own robe and by a gold ring on his finger. So the 
slightest possession, beyond absolute necessity, — a 
single dinar — will distract and bring thoughts of the 
world. There can be no compromise. He who 

■ Compare the story of S. Bernard and the man and the horse 
and the saddle in the Golden Legend, Vol. V, p. 43, Temple 


holds the world fast with his claws and yet desires to 
be free from the devil is like one who has been 
plunged in honey and thinks that flies will not light 
on him. The world is an enormous gateway for the 
devil; or rather, a multitude of gateways. First, he 
approaches a man through his sins; if he is repelled, 
then through advice, until he makes him fall into 
some innovation (bid c a) ; if he is repelled in that, he 
leads him into abstinence until he regards some- 
thing as unlawful that is not so; if he is repelled in 
that, he raises doubts as to whether his ablution 
or his prayer have been legally sound; and if he is 
repelled in that, he makes his deeds of piety easy 
for him, so that men regard him as most abstinent 
and patient; their hearts turn to him; he admires 
himself and perishes. This is the last stage of 
temptation; the saint who escapes self -admiration 
is safe of the Garden. 

4. To illustrate the quickness of change in the 
heart and its sensitiveness to influence, the Prophet 
compared it to a sparrow, turning at every moment; 
to a pot boiling up all together; and to a feather 
blown on the surface of the desert. But it is always 
in the hand of God. Thus the Prophet was fond 
of using as an oath or form of address the title of 
God, "Turner of Hearts." 

From the point of view of stability in good or evil, 
or swaying between the two, hearts are of three kinds : 
First, the fixedly good, however the devil may assail it ; 


to such a heart God turns his face ; it is the heart at 
rest as in the Qur>an (xiii, 28), "Do not hearts rest 
in the thought of Allah!" Second is the hopelessly 
bad heart. In it black smoke rises from passion, 
fills it and extinguishes its light; reason cannot see to 
guide and is subdued by the lusts. But third is the 
heart in which there is constant swaying and con- 
test between good and evil. The devil urges upon it 
the pleasures of the world and the example of learned 
theologians; but the angel, the abiding joys of heaven 
and pains of hell. The position is frankly other- 
worldly, and the fear of the Fire is the great motive 
urged. "If it were a hot summer day, and all 
mankind were standing out in the sun, while you 
had a cool house, would you stand by them, or would 
you not rather seek safety for yourself ? How, then 
would you oppose them out of fear of the heat of the 
sun and not out of fear of the heat of the Fire ? " 

According, then, as the satanic qualities or the 
angelic qualities in each heart are predominant, will 
the issue be; and all that will happen will be in 
agreement with the decree of God. To him who js 
created for the Garden, the causes of obedience will 
be made easy; and to him who is created for the 
Fire, the causes of rebellion are made easy. 

He whom Allah wills to guide, he opens his breast to Islam; 
and he whom he wills to lead astray he narrows his breast. 1 
1 Ie is the guider aright and the leader astray; he does what 

■ Qur. vi, 125- 


he wills, and decides what he wishes; there is no opposer 
of his decision and no repeller of his decree. He created 
the Garden and created for it a people, then used them in 
obedience; and he created the Fire, and created for it a 
people, then used them in rebellion. And he informed his 
creation of the sign of the people of the Garden and of the sign 
of the people of the Fire; then said, "The pure are in pleasure 
and the impure are in Jahlm" 1 ["blazing fire," i.e., hell]. 
Then he said, as has been handed down from the Prophet, 
"These are in the Garden, and I care not; and these are in 
the Fire, and I care not." So he is Allah Most High, the King, 
the Reality; "He is not asked concerning what he does; but 
they are asked.'" 

This is the end of the whole matter, and to this 
must return the vision of the Muslim mystic and the 
ecstasy of the Muslim saint; the dreams of a lover 
and a beloved, and the groanings and travailings 
of creation. Whenever the devout life, with its 
spiritual aspirations and fervent longings, touches 
the scheme of Muslim theology, it must thus bend 
and break. For it, within Islam itself, there is no 
place. The enormous handicap of the dogmatic 
system is too great; and if it would live its life, it 
must wander out into the heresies either of the mystic 
or the philosopher. Safety and dignity for the indi- 
vidual must be sought in some pantheistic scheme, 
starting either from God or from man. The dar- 
wishes" without law" (bi-shar^) are the legitimate 
outcome of this paradox of 

■ Qur. Ixxxii, i.\, 14. * Ibid., xxi, 33. 


Al-Ghazzali's general introduction to the internal 
and hidden side of life has now been put before you, 
and the nature and working of that organ of com- 
munication with the spiritual world which he calls 
the "heart" should now be tolerably clear. Clear, 
also, in the broad, I trust, are the religious attitude 
and the religious life of Muslims — the general 
development for Islam of the text, or thesis, which I 
borrowed from Mr. William James. You have seen 
how real to Muslims is that invisible world; you 
have seen in what ways they think of it and turn 
toward it; and you have seen how they try to adjust 
themselves to it and live into it. The general drift 
is now before you. 

Yet it would be easy to outline further and certainly 
fruitful lines of investigation. The precise pathology 
of Muhammad's psychology is one. Another would 
be the history of the pantheistic development in the 
later Sufi schools, under Buddhistic and Vedantic 
influence — a wide field. A third would be as wide 
and still more weighty — the present religious atti- 
tudes and movements of the Muslim peoples. That 
there are in them stirrings of new life, born of many 
causes, there can be no question. But these for the 
present must remain untouched. 



«Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, 145, 

162, 199. 
c Abd ar-Razzak, 170. 
Abel, 139. 

Aboo'l Hasan, 149, 150. 
Abu Bakr, the Khalifa, 204. 
Abu Bakr ash-Shashl, 93. 
Abu Hanifa, Code of, 143. 
Abu-1-Kasim of Geelan, 206-8. 
Abu Nuwas, 85. 
Abu Shuja £ , 153. 
Abu Sufyan, 48. 
Active Intellect, 212. 
Adam, 136, 141, 280, 289. 
—, 22, 31, 36. 
•A'isha, sayings of, 44, 60, 113. 
— Akhirawtya, al-mlum, 254. 
— Akhtal, 23. 
<-Ala-l-fi(ra, 243. 
<Alam al-haqq, 72. 
Alaeddin, Payne's trans, of, 105. 
Alee El-Leysee, the Shaykh, 

Alexandria, 143. 
'All, 204; sayings of, 91, 232. 
c Alim, 264. 
Allah {see also God), 129, 135; 

his sovereignty, 37; his 

unity, 38; creation an aspect 

of him, 38; throned afar, 79; 
seen in dreams, 80; his 
daughters, 134; his imman- 
ence in the world, 159; Al- 
lah and not- Allah, 159; a 
concealed treasure, 170; 
Great Name of, 197; his 
personal will, 213; hisaseity, 
225; his armies, 231; his 
presence, 244; "Everything 
is perishing save his face," 
245; Allahu ahbar, 247; 
Allah- Allah, 256; "All is 
God;" "God is all," 257; La- 
ilaha Ula-llah, 208, 257, 260; 
contemplation (mushahada) 
of him, 260; "Turner of 
hearts," 299; his absolute 
guidance aright and astray, 
300; "These are in the Fire 
and I care not," 301. 

Almsgiving, 37. 

Amalek, 28. 

Amicable Numbers, 115. 

Amina, 22. 

Amos, the Prophet, 14, 37. 

Angels, 275, 276, 292, 294, 
300; of revelation, 59; at 
Babel, Harut and Marut, 
113; armies of, 288. 

1 The Arabic article, (al, etc.) is omitted when it would 
occur at the beginning of any of these entries; in its place a — is 



Animal Spirit, 72. 

Antichrist, Jewish, 35. 

Apuleius, Golden Ass of, com- 
pared with Arabian Nights, 
128, 129. 

'Aql=-& vovs and rb rooiiupov 
230, 231. 

c Aqli, 265. 

— zAqliya, al-*ulum, 254. 

Aquinas, Thomas, 218. 

Arabia, poets in ancient, 16, 18; 
kahin of, 49. 

Arabian Nights, 126, 128, 141- 
43; "Story of Sul and Shu- 
mul, 141; "Story of Harun 
ar-Rashid and Tuhfat al- 
Qulvib," 141; "History of 
the Forty Vizirs," 141; 
"Story of Abdullah and his 
Brothers," 141; "Story of 
the Fisherman and the Jin- 
nl," 151. 

Arabs, 17, 24; skepticism of, 
4; soothsaying among, 9; 
inspiration of their poets, 

l AHJ, 268, 273. 

— Arim, breaking of dam of, 

Aristotle, 53; "common sense" 
of, 56, 67, 78. 

Aristotelian philosophers in 
Islam, 42, 51, 151, 158. 

Armenians, 106. 

<Arr&J, 25, 99. 

Artemidorus (oneiroc ritic), 77. 

— Ash c ari, 91, 92; his visions 
of Muhammad, 89 ff. 

«Attar, 205. 

Augustine, 14. 

Aurangzib, 195, 196, 202, 203. 

Auto-hypnosis, 257, 262. 

Automatic speech, 99. 

Automatic writers' formulae, 

Auto-suggestion common in 
the East, 156. 

Averroes, position of, 125; two- 
fold truth of, 227. 

Avicenna, 56, 152. 

A«war, 288. 

Atvliya, 136. 

— Azhar, University of, 152. 


Balaam, 17, 26, 27. 
Babel, people of, 108, 113. 
Badakhshan, 195. 
Badger, Dr. G. P., English- 
Arabic Lexicon of, 121. 
Baghdad, 145, 162. 
— Bahaee, the Shaykh, 210. 
— Bajuri, canon lawyer, 138, 

Bashaw Darwlshes, 258. 
Bath qSl, 272. 

— Bedawee, the Sayyid, 211. 
Bedawis, n. 
Bent ElShtm, 38. 
— Beruni, dream of, 86. 
Berkeley, Bishop, — "The esse 

is the percipi," 170. 
Bidf-a, 299. 

Bl-shar* Darwlshes, 238, 301. 
Bit-taqlid was-samfc, al-^ulim, 




Body, a vehicle, 232; needs of, 
232; likened to a king in his 
kingdom, 235; and mind, 
252, 265. 

Black Stone at Mecca, 216. 

Bland, N., reference to, 77. 

Breath, constraint of, in reli- 
gious exercises, 262. 

Brockelmann, Prof. Carl, 101. 

Browne, Prof. E. S., quoted, 
86, 127, 153. 

— Bukhari, Safyih of, 35. 

Bunyan, Holy War of, 235. 

Burdon, Major Alder, refer- 
ence to, 162. 

Burton, Sir Richard, quoted, 
91, 142. 

Byzantium, 267. 

Cain, 139. 

Cairo, 126, 143, 148, 153, 206. 

Canon lawyers of Islam, 


Caper plant, virtues of, 150. 

Carmen, 28. 

Chaldeans, 108, 113. 

Chauvin, Professor Victor, ref- 
erence to, 143. 

Chilli, 153. 

China, 267. 

"Christian Science," 117. 

Colored photisms, 201. 

"Comforters, the," 72. 

Companionship with a shaykh, 

Copts, 106. 

Crystal gazing, 97, 126. 


— Damlri, quoted, 22, 23, 148, 

Dara Shukoh, 202. 

— Daruriya, al-^ulum, 254. 

Darwish fraternities, 162 ff., 

210, 301; place of, in Islam, 

163; religious exercises of, 

14; b&-shai<-bi-sharc, 258; 

Naqshbandite, 259; Qadir- 

ite, 195. 
Dasim, 288. 
David, 29. 
Death, artificial, by asceticism, 

Decorated vestibule, parable 

of, 266. 
Defre"m£ry, reference to, 94. 
De Slane, references to, 84, 105, 

no, 113, 124, 132, 142, 165. 
Deuteronomy, Book oj, 22. 
Devil, devils, 284, 296, 300; 

never sleeps, 278; form of, 

290; Devil or devils? 287; 

nature of, 292-94; pelting 

of, 65, 136. 
Dhawq, 182, 187, 190. 
Dhihr, 161, 259, 261, 274, 284- 

Dieterici, Professor Fr., 152. 
Dihya al-Kalbi, 293. 
— Dlnlya, al-mlum, 254. 
Discipline of the Traveler, 220. 
Divination through the insane, 

Dominicans, 164. 
Dreams, books of, 77, 80; 

"bundles of dreams," 73; 


interpretation of, 77; seeing 
Muhammad or God in 
dream, 93; access to Unseen 
in dream, 214; veridical 
dreams, 272. 

Duldul, 91. 

Du Maurier's " dreaming true," 

— Dunya, 232. 

— Dunyawiya, al-^ulum, 254. 
Dupont and Cappolani's Con- 

Jrtries religieuses Musul- 

manes, 165. 
— Duhhdn (chap, of Qur.), 35. 

Earthly Paradise, the, 289. 
Ecclesiastes, 8. 
Economy of teaching in Islam, 

227, 284. 
Ego in Islam, 229. 
Egypt and its magicians, 108, 

Eli, 29. 
Elijah, 11. 
Eve, 141. 
Evil Eye, the, 119. 


Fall, the, 139, 289. 

Fana, 248, 260, 262. 

— Farabi's definition of the 

Jinn, 151. 
Fatiha, the, 210. 
Fajima, sister of Dara ShukSh, 

— Farazdaq, 36. 
Fayd, 226. 
Fetish power in poetry, 26. 

Fez, 94. 

Fi-fadli-l-^Um, 120. 

Fihrisi, the, 77, 144. 

Fi-l-istinja, 138. 

Fi-l-mu^dmala, 288. 

Fire, the, fear of, in Islam, 123. 

Fleischer on colored photisms, 

"Flesh," 228. 

Flint, Robert, reference to, 41. 

Franciscans, 164. 

Freemasons, lodges of, com- 
parison with, 164 

Fulani Emirates of northern 
Nigeria, 162. 


Gabriel, Archangel, 19, 20, 38, 
287, 293. 

Galen, 72. 

Galland's MS of Arabian 
Nights, 151. 

Geber, 109, no. 

"General sense," 74, 234. 

Geomancy, 105. 

Chant, 267, 268. 

Ghayba, 260, 262. 

— Ghazzali, Abu Hamid, 6, 14 
82, 83, 91-93, 131, 144, 145, 
150, 220, 223-28, 230, 236, 
239. 240-42, 245, 249, 252, 
258, 261-65, 268, 272, 274, 
278-80, 284, 287, 292, 294, 
296, 301, 302; on dreaming, 
80; dreams of, 92; conversion 
of, 123; his Jinn-raising, 
144; as a §ufl, 174-219; 
anecdotes about, 193; philo- 



sophical agnosticism and 
faith in the supernatural, 
218; Ihya of, 220, 291; 
doctrine of the "heart," 221; 

— "Madniin as-saghir" of 
(quoted), 227, 292; Book 0} 
Thanksgiving of, 233; psy- 
chology of, 234; allegories 
of life of man of, 234; episte- 
mology of, 254. 

Gibb, E. J. W. "Story of 
Khannas," quoted, 140. 

God, fatherhood of, 39; suffer- 
ing. 39' 

Golden Legend, 298. 

Goldziher, Prof. Ignaz, quoted; 
Arab. Philol., 16, 23, 28, 34, 
139, 160; Muhammedanische 
Studien, 160, 161. 

Goliath, 28. 

Greeks, oracles of, 29. 


Hadith najs, 286. 

Hadji Khan, With the Pil- 
grims to Mecca, quoted, 

Hagd, 30. 

Hal, 182. 

Hallucinations, non-veridical, 
263; auditory, 272; visual, 

H&lom, 75. 

"Haluma of the perfect na- 
ture," 75. 

— Halumiya, 75. 

Hirlph, 28. 

Holy Spirit, 188. 

Holy Ghost, the, 39. 

Hosea, the Prophet, 14, 37. 

Hughes, Dictionary oj Islam, 
reference to, 161. 

Hulill, 187. 

Hypnosis, 67, 196; "Sug- 
gestion" in, 200. 

— Haqq, the Reality, 247, 248, 

Haqiqi, 265. 
Harem, the, at Mecca, 216, 

Harran, 100. 
Hariin ar-Rashld, marriage to 

a Jinni of, 143. 
Harfit, 113. 
Hassan ibn Thabit, initiation 

of, 18, 19. 
Hatij, 25, 272. 
Hawa, 276. 

Iblls, 135, 136, 139, 141, 208, 

Ibn'Abd Rabbihi, Iqd of, 84, 


Ibn c ArabI and the sea mon- 
ster, 147; on knowledge, 188. 

Ibn Batuta, 94, 101. 

Ibn Khaldun, 40-45, 47-49, 52 
ff., 76, 79, 83, 93, 104-16, 
119, 120, 131, 133, 150, 166, 
169, 170, 173, 189, 203, 268. 
Muqaddima of, 40; on in- 
spiration, 42; his definition 
of prophecy, 42; on signs of 
the prophets, 44; on mission 
of prophets, 53 ff., on verses 


of Qur'an on angels, Jinn, 
etc., 61 ff., 130; on dream- 
ing, 69; on Sufis, 101, 166; 
on idiot-saints, 104; on 
magic and talismans, 108, 
117; his experiences of 
magic, 113, 114; his philoso- 
phy of miracles, etc., 117; 
on miracles of saints, 118; 
his utilitarianism, 119, 122; 
on the evil eye, 119; on 
mysticism, 123; on the 
Divine Unity, 124; on the 
Jinn, 130; his pragmatic 
position, 131; on soothsay- 
ing, 162. 

Ibn Khallikan, 142; dream of, 

Ibn Qasim, 138, 153. 

Ibn Sayyad, 34-36, 64, 66. 

Ibn Shaddad, Qadi Baha. ad- 
din, College of, 84. 

Ibn Sina, see Avicenna. 

Ibn al-Wahshiya, no. 

Ibrahim al-Khawwas, 271. 

Ibrahim ibn Adham, 271. 

Idea, devotion of orientals to 
single, 10. 

clfrits (see also Jinn), 155. 

Ilhdm, 252, 254, 255, 275, 276. 

*Ilm, 288. 

— c Ilm ar-rabbdnl, al-ladunl, 

Imr al-Qays, 31. 

Intellect, like a hunter with 
horse and dog, 236. 

Intention, doctrine of, 295. 

"Interesting," 120-22. 

IqtibSs, 1. 

c /r/dn, 248. 

Isaiah, 13, 14, 37. 

Isaiah, Booh 0} (8:19), 29. 

Islam, religious attitude in, 
2, 14; future life in, 15; 
Holy Spirit in, 19, 37, 62; 
inspiration of poets in, 25; 
pantheism in, 39; dualistic 
mysticism in, 39; shell of 
law in, 42; Aristotelianism 
in, 53; Neoplatonism in, 
51, S3, 77, 124; dream- 
books in, 77; stories of 
dreams in, 83; dreaming in, 
94; alchemy in, no; fear 
of the Fire in, 123; magic in 
modern, 126; the Fall and 
original sin in, 139; saints 
in, 157; ascetic-ecstatic life 
in, 157; mystical faith in, 
159; communities of beg- 
ging friars in, 161; mon- 
asteries in, 161; darwish 
fraternities in, 163; tertiaries 
in, 164; women saints in, 
165; pathways to reality in, 
214; final pantheism in, 301. 

Isma c Ilite influence on Sufis, 

Ispahan, 153, 154. 

Israfil, 216. 

Itlihid, 187, 248. 


Jacob, blessing of, 2a. 
Jacobus a Voragine, Legenda 
Aurea of, 5, 298. 



Jadhba, 258. 
Jahim, 301. 
Jane, 261. 

James, Professor William, ref- 
erences to, 1, 175, 201, 212, 

*57> *72» 3°2- 

Jeremiah, the Prophet, 14, 37. 

Jesuits, order of, 219. 

Jesus, 139, 278, 282. 

Jethro, 29. 

Jihad, lesser and greater, 235, 

Jinn, the, 11, 17, 26, 29, 44, 62, 
116, 127-37, I 4i, 149. I S°» 
1 S3> '54, 289, 291-94; in 
Islam, 130 ff., Robertson 
Smith on, 133 ff.; Muham- 
mad and the J., 135 ff.; Jinn 
of Nasibin, 138; salvability 
of, 139; Harun ar-Rashid 
and the, 142; can they be 
seen? 142; marriages with 
men, 143; loves of, 144; al- 
Ghazzall's raising of, 144; 
in folk-lore, 145; Jinn of 
China, 146; devotees and 
students of, 149; have they 
reason ? 151; al-Farabi's 
definition of, 151; Avi- 
cenna's definition of, 152; 
speech of, 152; whistling 
of, 152; how to control, 

JinnI, a, 18, 20, 33, 37, 45- 
Jism&nl, 265. 
Job, Booh of (10:30), 289. 
Judah, 14. 
JaMyo, i.e. yogis, 101. 

Ka^ba, 218. 

Kahin, hdhina, 22, 25, 29, 30- 
34. 37. 49. 6 4. 67, 98, 99, 

Kardma, haramdt, miracles 

of saints, 50, 95. 
Keightley's Fairy Mythology 

referred to, 291. 
Khawdlir, 275, 297. 
K hay 31, 265. 

— Khadir, el Khidr, an, 26a. 
Khinzib, 277, 288. 
Kipling's, Mr. Rudyard, Kim 

referred to, 257. 
Kdhen see Kahin, 25, 29. 


Labbayka yd rabbani, 32, 217. 

Lane, E. W., on magic mirror, 
126; his trans, of Arabian 
Nights, 139, 143, 153, 163, 
206, 209; his Modern Egyp- 
tians, 139, 163. 

Lang's, Mr. Andrew, Making 
of Religion, reference to, 97. 

Latlja rabbdniya, 221. 

— Lawh al-mahjuz, 253, 264. 

Legenda Aurea, 5, 298. 

Leprechaun, 291. 

Law, attitude to in East and 
West, 6 ff.; Ottoman, 143, 
153; Shafttte, 153; shell of, 
in East and West, 8 ff. 

— Madlna, 18, 34, 36, 61, 80, 
137, 377; chapters and 
verses of, 61. 


— Madnun of al-Ghazzali, 

quoted, 80, 190. 
Magic, theory of, 51; three 
kinds of, 112; slitters, 114- 
16; magicians in modern 
Islam, 126 f.; black, 128. 

Majdhubs, 258. 

— Malakul, 243, 245. 

Man, between the beasts and 
the angels, 237; his knowl- 
edge and will, 237; four 
properties in, 240; what 
"under his hide," 240; higher 
than the angels, 273; all his 
knowledge ultimately inspi- 
rational, 250. 

Mandal, magic figure, 153. 

Mansoul, leaguer of, 235; City 
of, 280. 

Margoliouth, Professor, Lije oj 
Muhammad, referred to, 46. 

Marco Polo, 94. 

M arH basif, 98. 

■Marut, 113. 

Ma$abih, 36. 

Maslama ibn Ahmad of Ma- 
drid, 109, no. 

Maxwell, Dr., 117, 200; his 
Metapsychical Phenomena 
referred to, 127. 

Mecca, 45, 61, 91, 197, 203; 
chapters and verses of, 61; 
Meccan period of Muham- 
mad, 68; pilgrimage to, 86, 
88, 215. 

"Mental Science," 117, 200. 

Merv, 87, 88. 

"Metapsychical," 117. 

Myers', F. W. H., Human 
Personality, reference to, 272. 

Min ladunna, 269. 

Min rabbihi, 269. 

— Mi c raj, 290. 

Miswat, 288. 

Mitchell, Dr. Weir, reference 
to, 272. 

Mithdl, mithl, 81, 82, 290. 

Molla Shah, 195, 199, 202-4. 

Morocco, saints of, 149. 

Moses, i, 21, 22, 28, 108, 113, 

MSshel, 15, 17. 

— Mubarrad, K&mil and 
Rawda of, 84, 85. 

— Mubashshirat, 72. 

Muhammad, the Prophet, 1, 
10, 14, 18, 19, 22, 31, 33-42, 
45-49- 65, 67, 69, 72, 80, 135, 
204, 210, 225, 277, 290, 292; 
sayings of, 19, 43, 44, 59, 60, 
64. 7 2 > 74, 81, 124, 136, 137. 
139, '75, !7 8 > '79- 199. 2I 4, 
228, 235, 241, 276, 277, 279, 
281, 284, 294, 295, 297, 299; 
inspiration of, 19; inspira- 
tional seizures of, 33, 44, 59 
ff.; two ideas of, 37; mira- 
cles of, 49; auto-hypnosis of, 
68; M. seen in dreams, 77, 
80; M. and the Jinn, 135 ff.; 
at Mt. Hlra, 187; usage 
(sunna) of, 279; psycholog- 
ical experiences of, 298. 

Muhammad ibn Ahmad at- 

Tabasi, 144. 
Muhammad al-AndalusI, 149. 



Mutjiza, 49. 

— Muhtdsiba bit-la *attunt ■wal- 

istidldl, al-Hdiim, 259. 
— Munqidh of al-Ghazzali, 

quoted, 170. 
Murdqaba, 259. 

Murtada, the Sayyid, 220, 257. 
Musaylima, 66. 
Mushihada, 260. 
Mustafa al-Munadee, 210. 
Mutahhayyila, 290. 
Mutashabihat, 113. 
Muttahid, 169. 
Mvbtazilites, 49-51, 87, 89, 91, 



Nabateans, 108, 113. 
Nabatean Agriculture, Booh of, 

108, 109. 
Najatha, 19. 

Najs, 228, 229, 231, 274. 
— Najs al-mutmaHnna, 229. 
— Najs al-lawwima, 229. 
— Najs al-ammara bis-sH?, 230. 
Nasjr ibn Khusraw, dream 

and conversion of, 86-88. 
— Nawawi, 36. 
NebhPtnt, 13, 16, 37. 
Neoplatonism in Islam, 51, 53, 

77> i*4- 
Nephesh, 228. 
New Testament, 49. 
Nlya, 295. 
Noah, 281. 
Numbers, Book of, 20. 

Occam, 158; nominalism of, 


" Odysseus," Turkey in Europe 

of, quoted, 122. 
Old Testament, 11, 15, 29, 49, 

Omreh, 216. 
Original sin in Islam, doctrine 

of, 139. 
Ottoman law, 143. 
"Outpouring," 226. 


Paul, 222. 

Payne, Mr. John, on geomancy, 
105; transl. of Arabian 
Nights, 141, 142. 

"People of the upper region," 

Pepys, 94. 

Perinde ac si cadaver, 219. 

Peter the Cruel, 40. 

Piper, Mrs., 46, 47, 64. 

Plotinian pantheism, 151, 159, 

Poet in ancient Arabia, 16 ff.; 
as leader of Arabs, 21; in- 
spiration of poets in Islam, 

Porphyry, the oneirocritic, 77. 

"Possession" in abnormal psy- 
chology, 99. 

Potiphar, 29. 

Powers of numbers and letters, 

Pratt, Professor J. B., 203. 

Preserved Tablet, the, 253, 
264, 265. 

Prophecy, 214. 

Prophets, sons of, n; schools 
of, 16; miracles of, 5; soul 


of, 52, 58; inspirational 

nature of, 58. 
Prophetism; 37, soil of, 12 ff. 
Proverbs, Booh oj (chap. 31), 



Qabas, 1. 

Qabul, 261. 

Qadirites, 162, 195. 

Qadhaja, 252. 

— Qadisiya, 119. 

Q&Hd, 22. 

Qalb, 221, 231. 

Qarib ibn al-Aswad, 66. 

Qarin, 19. 

— Qazwlnl, 145. 

Quran, 30, 60-62, 65, 67, 74, 

"3. I 37» '3 8 . !43. IS 1 ! I 7 2 » 
253. 2 55. 268, 269, 274, 283, 
294; revelation of, 18; crea- 
tion of, 26; Q. of the devil, 
26; a miracle, 52; in soft, 
67; "clear" and "obscure" 
verses in, T33; references to 
— ii, 271, p. 276; iv, 162, p. 
280; v. 4, p. 61; vi, 125, pp. 

179. 245. 30°; ■"'< Ioff -> P- 
280; vii, 19, p. 274; vii, 171, 
p. 92; vii, 178, p. 205; viii, 
24, p. 223; xii, 44, p. 74; xii, 
53. P- 230; xiii, 28, pp. 241, 
300; xiii, 33, p. 4S; xv > l8 > 
p. 65; xvi, 74, p. 143; xvii, 
12, p. 282; xvii, 66, p. 289; 
xvii, 87, pp. 225, 239; xviii, 
23, p. 260; xviii, 48, p. 136; 
xviii, 64, p. 269; xix, 17, p. 
293; xx, io, p. 1; xx, no, p. 

47; xx, 118, p. 274; xxi, 
5, p. 74; xxi, 23, p. 301; xxi, 
38, p. 282; xxvi, 89, p. 190; 
xxvii, 7, p. 1; xxvii, 63, p. 
184; xxviii, 30, p. 93; xxviii, 
88, pp. 245, 246; xxxiii, 41, 
p. 161; xxxiii, 72, p. 243; 
xxxvii, 8, p. 57; xxxviii, 34 
p. 287; xxxix, 23, p. 245; 
xxxix, 27, p. 229; xl, 9, p. 
143; xl, 16, p. 247; xiii, 50, 
p. 254; xliv, p. 35; xlvi, 
28 ff., p. 136; xlix, 12, p. 
285; 1, IS. P- 274; 1, 2r, p. 
178; li, 49, p. 276; li, 56, p. 
232; liii, p. 290; lix, 19, p. 
223; lxxii p. 135; lxxiii, pp. 
34. 44; kxiii, S, p. 60; 
lxxiv, p. 34; lxxiv, 34, p. 
231; lxxv, 2, p. 229; lxxv, 
16, p. 47; lxxxii, 13, 14, p. 
301; xci, 8, p. 252; cxii, p. 
197; cxiii, p. 113; cxiv, 4, s, 
p. 274. 

Quraysh, tribe of, 22. 

— Qushayri, 270. 

Qufb or "axis," 171. 


Rabija, 205. 

Rahib, 161. 

— Razi, Majatih al-ghayb of, 


Reality, the, 259, 301; path- 
ways to, 214. 

"Remembering" God, 161, 

Renan, reference to, 125. 
Robertson, W. F., quoted, 1. 



Romans, Epistle to (8:22), 66. 
Raft, 224, 231, 239. 
Ruhani, 291. 

ScPih, 161. 

Saints, 70, 103 ff.; fastidious- 
ness of, as to burial, 5; in 
East and West, 5; examples 
of miracles of, 49, 103, 172, 
269; of Morocco, 149; hier- 
archy of Muslim, 158; as 
ascetics, 160; as teachers, 
160; hypnotic and anti- 
nomian, 195; stories of, 269. 

Sainthood, 214. 

Sofa 22, 29-32, 64, 67. 

Salih Beg, 197. 

Salih, 259. 

Samuel, 13, 23, 25, 29. 

Sanguinetti, reference to, 94. 

Sanflsites, 162. 

Satan, 92, 140, 141, 290; his 
family, 288. 

Sawda bint Zuhra, 22. 

Selves, subliminal, 42. 

Sensuous-ascetic paradox of 
man's nature, 197 

Seville, 40. 

Scroll 0} the seven stars, 109. 

Scrying in Islam, 97. 

— Shadhill, 272. 

Shah Jahan, 202, 203. 

Shahwa kSdhiba, sSdiqa, 228. 

Sh&'ir, 17, 31, 25. 

Shakhs, 81. 

— Sha'r&nl, 147, 149. 

— Shar<iya, al-^ulum, 254. 

Shalahat, 173. 

Shayban ar-Ra c I, 270, 271. 

Shaytan {see also Satan, devil), 

26, 56, 275. 
Schefer, reference to, 86. 
— Shibli, 269, 270. 
Shrite, 171. 
Shiloh, 29. 
Shifr, 31. 
Shuhr, 260. 
Smith, W. Robertson, quoted, 

*33> 139- 

Snobbishness in Muslim 
thought, 227. 

Signatures, doctrine of, 107. 

Sirat, 204. 

Society for Psychical Re- 
search, 36, 84, 155, 156, 
201, 292. 

Socrates, Satfiuv of, 24, 272. 

Solomon, 287. 

Soothsaying, nature of, 62. 

Soul and body, 55, 116, 228, 
tendency upwards, 55 ; three 
kinds of, 57; apprehension 
by, 73; rational soul, 76-78; 
nature of, 96; child's ra- 
tional soul, 96; rational soul 
of magicians, in, 112. 

Speaking head, the, 100. 

Speaking with tongues, 172. 

Spirits of the spheres, 212. 

Spitta Bey, reference to, 89. 

Sprenger, Alois, references to, 
44. 46. 

St. Bernard, 298. 

St. Francis, 272. 

St. John, Bayle, Two Years in 


a Levantine Family, refer- 
ences to, 143, 155, 156. 

Subliminal consciousness, 4a, 

Sufis, derivation of name, 161, 
166; Muslim view of origin, 
165; dictionaries of biog- 
raphy, 165; ladder of 
"states," 167, 173, 174, 188, 
189; books of, 167; methods 
of rending veil of sense, 168; 
metaphysics, 169; discipline 
of the soul, 171; unveiling of 
the unseen world, 171; con- 
trol of material things, 171; 
path of, 181, 255, 256; view 
of najs, 229. 

Sufyan ath-Thawrl, 270, 271. 

Sulub, 293. 

Suluk, 258. 

$ura, 290. 

Surayj, 85. 

Swinnerton's Indian Nights? 
Entertainments, reference to, 

Syrians, 108, 113. 

— Tabarl, Qur»an commentary 
of, references to, 47, 252. 

Tajalla, 170. 

Tahahhana, 32. 

Talismans, 11, 117, 216. 

Taqwa, 287. 

TabOk, Raid of, 61. 

fariq, farlqa, 255, 259. 

Tawakkul Beg, 195-98, 200, 
202, 203, 263. 

Towflq, 275. 
Tawhid, 248. 
Tennyson, auto-hypnosis of, 

Thabr, 288. 

Theologians, speculative, 118, 

Thomas, Mr. N.W., on crystal- 
gazing, 126. 

"Thought" {dhihr) of God, 
259. 2 77> 286. 

Timfim the Indian, Book of, 

Timur, 40. 

Trinity, doctrine of, 19. 

Tulayha al-Asadl, 66. 

— f-Vlum, 254. 
— 'Ulum at-mahmuda wal- 

madhmuma, 120. 
'Urnar, the Khalifa, 101, 204, 

Unity and multiplicity, 170. 
Unseen, reality of, to orientals, 


Urim and Thummim, 25. 
cUthman, the Khalifa, 204. 

Van Vloten, reference to, 139. 
Van Dyck, Dr. E. A., reference 

to, 56. 
Vales, 28. 
Verne, Jules, 126. 
"Verse of the Religion," 61. 
Vision, 70 ff.; from God, 74; 

from angels, 74; from the